A coalition of 70 organizations, including the US Conference of Mayors, American Heart Association, and the National PTA, have signed on to a letter from America Bikes urging Congress to preserve the Cardin-Cochran amendment — a provision in the Senate transportation bill that allows local agencies to directly access funds street safety projects. The letter is addressed to the 33 House members and 14 Senators on the transportation bill conference committee. Neither co-sponsor of the original amendment is on the committee.
As the letter points out, the signatories represent the incredibly wide range of benefits that accrue from a well-supported biking and walking program:
Our organizations care about a diverse range of issues — transportation, safety, accessibility,economic competitiveness, historic preservation, health and obesity. And we are united in asking you to ensure that local governments have flexibility and funding certainty to address these issues by making available to them a small portion of federal transportation dollars.
Last week it became clear that a few conferees may still have their sights set on removing bike-ped funding from the federal transportation program entirely. But a recent survey showed that over 80 percent of all Americans — when controlling for region, age, education, even political affiliation — support at the very least keeping bike-ped spending where it is, if not increasing it.
“This letter and the March 2012 polling data show broad support for federal funding for biking and walking across the country,” said Caron Whitaker, campaign director of America Bikes, in a statement accompanying the letter. “Americans clearly want this small, but vital, investment in biking and walking to continue.”
“First the survey, and now this letter from organizations from all walks — folks really want to see local control over bike-ped funding,” added America Bikes Communications Coordinator Mary Lauran Hall. “The controversy is isolated and inside-the-Beltway.”
The letter arrives while the committee negotiations appear to be in danger of stalling out before members agree on the details of a final bill. The sense that talks may fizzle is mounting.
Politico Pro has reported (behind a paywall) that Senator Barbara Boxer, who championed the original bill through her Environment and Public Works Committee and then the full Senate, believes negotiations to be “at a crossroads,” indicating that GOP willingness to play ball could be waning after some initial enthusiasm.
Read the full coalition letter after the jump.