By Adam Newman
House Republicans have introduced a spending bill that could eliminate federal funding for cycling programs, among other major changes in transportation spending. Two of the programs include Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Without these programs, communities all over the country will lose resources to build the sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways that make biking and walking safe and accessible in communities across the country.
Other changes under the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act that would have a negative impact on cyclists include: rails to trails are no longer eligible for funding under the Surface Transportation program., pedestrian and bicycle coordinators in state DOTs are eliminated, and it eliminates the requirement that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled,” according to America Bikes, a nonprofit organization of bicycle community leaders.
The bill is still far from becoming law. This week, Representative Petri, R-Wisc., plans to offer an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School, said the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. They encourage you to contact your congressional representative and let them know you support such amendments.
Other changes in the $260 billion bill would include allowing trucks on highways as heavy as 97,000 pounds and potentially as large as 126,000 pounds. Current limits are set at 80,000 pounds. These changes are supported by the trucking industry but not by safety groups, the Associated Press is reporting.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the bill would put American’s back to work repairing damaged roads and bridges. The committee is expected to begin marking up the bill on Thursday. The Senate is working on its own version of a transportation bill.
Why it’s bad
Here’s some key reasons why you should be paying attention—from Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Cyclists.
Efforts to amend the bill to restore the funding for bikes and pedestrians were voted down 29-27 today (Feb. 2, 2012), according to Streetsblog. You can see how the members voted here at railstotrails.org. We’re glad to see our local representative, Jason Altmire, was in the "yea" category.