Brace Yourself: Here Comes Another Attack on Bike/Ped Funding

Projects like this pedestrian-friendly streetscaping in Bayonne, New Jersey, might not get built without the crucial support of the federal Transportation Alternatives Program. Photo: ##http://taimages.railstotrails.org/1-Ped-Bike-Facilities/Bayonne-StreetscapeBayonne-NJ/i-QWKnM2B##Rails-to-Trails Conservancy##
Projects like this sidewalk in Bayonne, New Jersey, might not get built without the crucial support of the federal Transportation Alternatives Program. Photo: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

If petty Congressional attacks on bike/ped funding were a drinking game, you’d be drunk by now. And now two House Republicans want to pour you another shot.

Reps. Sam Johnson (TX) and Vicky Hartzler (MO) have introduced a bill to eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program, the largest source of federal funding for biking and walking projects. TAP is today’s curtailed and underfunded version of what used to be known as Transportation Enhancements. Without it, simple infrastructure we all depend on — sidewalks, trails, crosswalks, bike lanes — would get even less support from the federal transportation program. Other activities that mitigate the environmental damage caused by roads, like stormwater management, would also lose an important source of funding.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy warns that the (perfectly-named) Right-of-Way for American Drivers Act of 2015 (H.R. 2609) could be offered as an amendment to a transportation funding bill that will be voted on as early as today. If not, the measure could find a home in the next transportation reauthorization, due in less than two months.

“Programs like TAP are in high demand,” said Patrick Wojahn, RTC’s director of government relations, in a statement. “Today, 12 percent of all trips in the United States are made by biking or walking. These active-transportation modes continue to grow as options for more and more Americans, yet we only invest 1.5 percent of surface transportation funds in these programs.”

Three hundred organizations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed a letter [PDF] urging Congress to support TAP.

  • snobum

    “Right-of-Way for American Drivers Act of 2015”. Wow. Just wow.

  • mike_napolis_beard

    Are they on Big Auto’s payroll? I can see no positive outcome of this other than increased auto sales in the long run.

  • murphstahoe

    We can only pray that Google etc… cut them to pieces with self driving cars.

  • Somewhere in here there’s a joke about congress being the opposite of progress.

  • G1991
  • David Shere

    It’s worth pointing out that this probably won’t become law. We usually end up funding most of the discretionary budget with continuing resolutions instead of appropriations bills. I mean Defense, sure they pass that, but as much as Republicans like cars and roads better than feet and bike paths, my impression is they really don’t care about transportation all that much.

  • mike_napolis_beard

    Wow. Very interesting contextual information. Thanks.

  • Sue Zee

    Do people ride bikes on trails in all weather? NO! Do people walk on trails in all weather? NO! A RAIL TRAIL IS NOT A FEASIBLE TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVE. ITS A FRIVOLOUS WASTE OF TAXPAYERS DOLLARS.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    when are drivers finally going to pay the full cost of their driving ? mass motoring is lavishly subsidized in the US.

    if you’d pay the full cost of driving gas taxes would need to be at least $8 a gallon.

    how much driving would you be doing paying $11 a gallon ?

    stop leeching off the rest of us

  • Sue Zee

    Well, I don’t see bikers and hikers paying anything extra for the privilege of brand new shiny rail trails. And, we most certainly do not need to be absorbing the additional costs of subsidizing the construction and maintenance of rails to trails. A foolish waste of money. The roads are bought and paid for. Bicycle or take a walk along that for Pete’s sake. Or visit any number of public parks and national forests. All bought and paid for.

  • Sue Zee

    Desperate times deserve desperate measures. LOL

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

House Attack on Safe Streets Makes Transpo Bill Ever More Elusive

|
We reported last week that the House had proposed allowing states to “opt out” of funding bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements in its counter-offer to the Senate during transportation bill negotiations. The House GOP essentially wants to reject the Cardin-Cochran amendment, which gave local governments control over half the “Additional Activities” funding set aside for […]

Mica Wants to Abandon Federal Commitment to Bike-Ped Funding

|
A few final notes before we all head home for the weekend… Jonathan Maus at BikePortland just brought our attention to a recent comment we wish House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) hadn’t made. As the Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday, Rep. Mica is making noises about “siphoning away” money for bike paths. The Sentinel says […]

Funds for Walking and Biking Under Attack in Congress This Week

|
Funds for walking and biking infrastructure account for a tiny portion of federal transportation spending. Safer streets don’t cost much, though, so for the cities and towns that count on these programs, a few dollars from the feds can be a huge help. Despite the relatively small sums at play, walking and biking programs are a constant […]