The Name Says It All: U.S. Senate Unveils the DRIVE Act

What does Congress envision for the future of transportation in the U.S.? Hint: The Senate’s transportation bill is called the DRIVE Act.

The future, according to the U.S. Senate. Photo: U.S. National Archives/Flickr
The future, according to the U.S. Senate. Photo: U.S. National Archives/Flickr

Caron Whitaker at the League of American Bicyclists reports:

As is evident in the acronym, The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, or DRIVE Act, is not focused on improving multi-modal transportation but rather on the interstate and highway system. The U.S. Senate introduced its version of the new transportation bill this week and it is set for a hearing on Wednesday.

While we were successful in getting some small changes to the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP), we do not see any real innovation or vision to really grapple with transportation needs of [the] 21st century.

Whitaker says the DRIVE Act proposes to increase TAP funding — which can be used for projects that encourage walking and biking — but does not restore cuts made since 2011, when the program was funded at $1.2 billion. Further, the bill identifies no funding source for the proposed increase.

The bill decreases the percentage of funds dedicated to road safety, says Whitaker. It would allow states to take TAP funds away from local Metropolitan Planning Organizations, making it difficult to plan projects.

NACTO design guidelines for safer streets get a “mention,” says Whitaker, “But the big takeaway is this bill is not a coherent vision of the future, or even of the present.”

Tanya Snyder will have more DRIVE Act details at Streetsblog USA as they emerge.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking Toronto says speed limits on downtown streets may be lowered to 30 kph, Grist (via CityLab) reports that Seattle police are handing out presents to drivers who obey traffic laws, and People for Bikes cites a Washington Post columnist who likens cycling in 2015 to driving in the U.S. a century ago.

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