A Dramatic Win for the Future of Biking and Walking in the Keystone State

As almost everyone now knows, there was high political drama this past week. The transportation funding bill that had been in the works for the past ten months failed twice on Monday, and then passed on the third try (104-95; click for roll call) on Tuesday. It was a huge relief to see it get through the Senate on Wednesday (43-27), and again in the House for a concurrence vote on Thursday (113-85).  It is expected to be signed by the Governor next week.

Tremendous credit for this success goes to PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who worked diligently for several years to make the case for the nearly $2.4 billion package, and fought hard to keep the issue front and center even after the House was unable to take a vote in June and rejected versions of the bill twice on Monday night.

What will this bill do for biking and walking? A lot. As the Secretary told advocates Monday night, “This is the biggest step forward for the bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation in the history of Pennsylvania.” The bill:

  • Creates a multi-modal fund that grows from $30 to $144 million over a 5-year period, to which bicycle and pedestrian projects can apply for funding;
  • Sets an annual minimum of $2 million of that fund to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
  • Makes it easier to use state transportation money for pedestrian safety projects, streetscaping & lighting;
  • Explicitly states that Pennsylvania’s comprehensive transportation system includes Pennsylvania’s “numerous bicycle and pedestrian facilities,” which will make it easier for bicycle/pedestrian projects to compete for highway funds.

A full analysis of how the entire funding package will increase over the next five years is here.

The biking and walking community put its oar in the water to help secure this legislative success. With your help, we fought hard for biking and walking to be included in the bill and to receive a minimum-floor amount of the multi-modal fund. This success is a result of years of coalition work with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition and the health groups that collaborated on Walk Ride PA.
Thank you to everyone who responded to our six “calls to action” over the past several months and to our partner Pennsylvania and national organizations for using their own networks to get the message out. In total, 3,371 actions were taken through our action center on this issue. Harrisburg heard loud and clear that Pennsylvanians want safer roads for biking and walking and are willing to use their voice to call for state investments in enhancing transportation choices.

If you want to celebrate the bill’s signing, there will be three bill signing events, one real and two symbolic, happening on Monday:

  • Live bill signing: State College, PA. Happening 9:30 AM at the VFW Post 9575 located along route 322, just west of the 322/144 intersection.
  • Montgomery County. Happening roughly 12:30 PM, exact location and date TBD (somewhere in SE MontCo; we’ll update this post when we know).
  • Pittsburgh. Happening 4 PM by the Liberty Bridge.
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Three Times a Charm: PA House passes a Transportation Funding Bill

In a remarkable reversal, the House Assembly passed the same transportation funding bill they had voted down just 24 hours earlier. Representative Micozzie’s version of the bill passed last night 104-95 providing an additional $2.3 billion annually for transportation.

You can read all about the drama at Philly.comMorning Call CBS3AP and AP and Politics PA.

The bill goes to the Senate today, another House vote tomorrow and, barring any further setbacks, could be signed by the Governor by the end of the week.

We thank our area legislators who voted Yes on this bill. It was a tough vote and we are grateful to those who chose to support a comprehensive transportation funding bill for Pennsylvania’s future. This bill provides $490 million that SEPTA desperately needs, recognizes biking and walking as a mode of transportation and creates a multi-modal fund with dedicated funding for biking and walking.

Given how many run-ups there were to potential votes over the last six months, we probably sent out more calls to action on this issue than any other in our history. Thanks to all of you who responded to the many action alerts in your inbox! Bicyclists were among the most vocal supporters of this bill. That helped get the bill passed — and earned the gratitude of the people who will now be deciding how best to spend our new transportation dollars. Thank you!

To look up who your House Rep is, click here.

Thanks to John Boyle for creating this map of the full 11/19 roll call vote on the Micozzie Amendment to HB 106
Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 5.11.40 PM

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November 18th is Critical Week for Pennsylvania Transportation Funding

After more than a year of negotiation, stalling, and jockeying, the House Assembly is going to vote this week on a transportation bill, paving the way for the Senate to follow up and the Governor to sign a bill. The final product of this week’s votes will determine if bicycling, walking, and public transit are part of Pennsylvania’s future, or tossed out the back door like mopwater.

The PA House is expected to consider, as soon as this afternoon, an amendment to HB 106 sponsored by Representative Micozzie (R-163). This amendment will create a $2.3 billion transportation funding bill that repairs our bridges, provides for public transit statewide, and for the first time ever recognizes and funds bicycling and walking.

It will be all too easy to strip bicycling and walking out of the bill as “frivolous expenditures nobody wants.”House Assembly members need to hear from you that safe walking and biking are important. Tell your Representative to vote YES on Rep. Micozzie’s amendment.

In the 21st century, transportation does not begin and end with highways. We need a comprehensive transportation bill that makes bicycling and walking in Pennsylvania safer and more accessible. Funding does that, and this is our best chance to get bicycling and walking respected and acknowledged in our state’s transportation funding. The House may vote on Rep. Micozzie’s amendment to HB106 as soon as this afternoon; e-mail or call your House Representative today and tell them to vote for the amendment!

Thank you for speaking up for biking and walking!

p.s If you want to call your legislator – use this handy site to find his/her contact information

 

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Now is the Time to Speak Up For PA’s Bicycling and Walking

We’ve reached a critical moment for transportation in Pennsylvania, and we need your help for the future of our state.

Early next week, the Pennsylvania House is going to vote on a transportation bill. This is Pennsylvania’s best shot to adequately fund transportation, including bicycling and walking projects, for the foreseeable future. We must act now.
House members need to hear from you that this bill is critical to Pennsylvania’s economic well being and to you as their constituent. No matter their party, every House member should vote for this bill if they have Pennsylvania’s best interests at heart.

Please support bicycling & walking in two ways:

  1. Send this e-mail action letter to your House representative.
  2. Call your House Representative’s office and deliver the same message: you are counting on them to vote YES on comprehensive transportation funding.

Last spring the Senate passed SB 1, providing $2.5B in transportation funding. That bill was the best we could expect out of this transportation debate, and we need the House to pass an identical bill at that same $2.5 billion funding level.
In order to fulfill the promise of Senate Bill 1 and build, not bastardize, Pennsylvania’s future, the House bill must provide $2.5 billion in annual transportation funding, which includes:

  • $495 million designated for public transit (read: SEPTA);
  • A robust multi-modal fund of $80-$150 million annually, to which bicycle and pedestrian projects can apply for funding;
  • At least $2 million minimum in the multi-modal fund for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

This is a critically important moment in Pennsylvania for all forms of transportation. We need everyone to speak up for its importance. As Rina Cutler, Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor said yesterday at a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission board meeting: “We have one shot at this and no second chance.”

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PA State Transportation Commission Wants to Hear From You

As odd as it may sound in this time of fiscal uncertainty (what with Harrisburg deliberating whether or not to fund transportation at all), the State’s Transportation Commission is seeking public comment as it develops its “Twelve Year Transportation Program.”

The Commission has prepared a draft performance report, and the public comment period is open until October 7th.

This is a great opportunity to tell the Transportation Commission where you want improvements in biking and walking on any state road in Pennsylvania.

There are several ways to provide your input to the Transportation Commission:

First, you can take a one hour webinar on September 26th from 6-7pm.  Register to take the webinar here.

Second, you can take this public survey. You’ll have an opportunity to indicate specifically where you want bicycle “paths” and trails.

Third, download this Project Feedback Form and fill it out with the name of a road or bridge where you want a bicycle or pedestrian “facility” (i.e. a bike lane, a crosswalk, a mid-block crossing) and e-mail it to Julie Harmantzis at RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov. Fill out a form for every project that you want to suggest.

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