Harrisburg Needs To Hear That You Value Bicycling And Walking

We predicted there would be opposition in Harrisburg to dedicating funding for bicycling and walking, and now we learn we were right.

The Pennsylvania Senate recently passed Senate Bill 1, a comprehensive, 21st century transportation funding solution for Pennsylvania. Given the choice, everyone would prefer Pennsylvania to exist in the 21st century, right?

Now Pennsylvania’s House Transportation Committee is contemplating amendments to that bill. The proposed amendments strip out what the Senate had recommended for biking and walking.

The amendments completely eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects that make our communities safer.

These proposed amendments would also reduce the funds available for multi-modal projects and deal a huge blow to mass transit, leading to massive service cuts around the state.

These amendments would be very, very bad for Pennsylvania.

As a state we need to improve and diversify our transportation. We need to be able to get where we need to go safely. Bicycling and walking are active modes of transportation. 12% of all trips in Pennsylvania (not just Philly, but the whole state) occur on foot or on bike. But these House amendments want no dedicated funding for bicycling or pedestrian projects. 

If you care about Pennsylvania making us safer by funding bicycling and walking, please contact the House leadership and the Governor today!

 

  • Tell them that you do not support the proposed House amendments to Senate Bill 1.
  • Tell them that you support a final transportation funding package that invests adequate resources in a multi-modal transportation system that includes dedicated funding for all modes of transportation.
  • Ask them to support a $2.5 billion transportation funding plan that would include a first-ever state investment in making our roads and communities safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Tell them why this is important.

Making roads and communities more conducive to active transportation options, like bicycling and walking, will reduce roadway crashes, reduce carbon emissions, help children and families build physical activity into their daily routines, and open Pennsylvania up to a larger share of the bicycle tourism industry – a $50 billion per year industry.

It’s the 21st century, and we need a 21st century transportation funding bill.

Federal Transportation Bill Threatens Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding

Congress is conferring on the next Federal Transportation Bill, and bicycle and pedestrian funding is still at stake.  In the Senate transportation bill, programs that fund bicycle and pedestrian funding are preserved and improved, continuing to fund projects that benefit bicyclist and pedestrians.  To contrast, the bill from the House of Representativesrepeals programs that fund bicycle and pedestrian projects, and places the priority on our highway network.

Federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian has been used in every congressional district in Pennsylvania, and has funded hundreds of projects that have improved conditions for bicycles and pedestrians.  We do not want to halt the progress that has been made in the past two decades.  Chances are, your favorite bike path was partly funded with federal funding.  Many communities have benefited from sidewalk replacement projects funded with federal dollars.  In more recent years, the funds have been used to make walking and biking to school safer, and will have lifelong benefits for the children that attend schools that participated in the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Pennsylvania Walks and Bikes has a resource to help you learn which projects in your community have benefited from federal transportation dollars.  If you want to see more of these projects; if you have benefited from better sidewalks, safer bike paths, and healthier children, tell your representative in congress.

Pennsylvania is well represented on the House Transportation Committee by Congressmen Bill Shuster, Lou Barletta, Patrick Meehan, Tim Holden, Jason Altmire; and also well represented in the conference committee by Representative Bill Shuster.  Congressman Shuster has not been supportive of preserving bicycle and pedestrian funding, and has been very open about his belief that the federal transportation bill should focus on our highway system.

We do not want to see the progress towards a more walkable and bikeable Pennsylvania come to a halt.  We enjoy the benefits of these programs, and we do not want to see the end.  Let your representative know that walkable and bikeable communities are important.  Let them know that we want to continue to improve Pennsylvania, not stop it with a flat.

Transportation Bills Risks Eliminating Funding for Bicycles and Pedestrian Projects

Funding for transportation projects continues to be a hot button issue at the state and federal level.  In Washington D.C., legislators are considering a multi-year transportation spending bill that will set the priorities and dictate the spending abilities of the federal government.  In Harrisburg, legislators are developing a comprehensive transportation funding package that will modernize PennDOT and increase the amount of state funds available for transportation infrastructure.  PA Walks and Bikes is taking an active role in ensuring that our voice is heard.

We are disappointed with the Federal House Transportation Bill as it threatens to reverse decades of bicycle and pedestrian funding by eliminating two very important programs.  The Transportation Enhancements program is a federal program that mandates states invest in bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  Transportation Enhancements funds have been used to build bike trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, and walking paths.  A large majority of the facilities we enjoy so much as pedestrians and bicyclists have been built using Transportation Enhancements funds and the current transportation bill, as it is proposed, would eliminate this dedicated source of funds; the result makes a bike trail project compete against a highway project for funding.

The other program at risk is the Safe Routes to School Program.  Safe Routes to School is money dedicated by the federal government to make the journey to school safer for our children.  The program funds construction projects such as sidewalks and crosswalks, but it also funds education programs to teach children safe bicycle and walking skills.  This program is also proposed to be eliminated from the House Transportation Bill.  Both programs have been included in the Senate Transportation Bill.  We have contacted our representatives in congress to let them know that eliminating these programs is unacceptable to the bicycle and pedestrian community.  The fight continues, and it is important that you let your representative know that you do not want to see this funding disappear.

Within our own state, transportation funding is being debated within the State House and State Senate.  The bills are both very similar, and drafted from the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report, which was completed and made public in August, 2011.  This bills will modernize operations with PennDOT, increase revenue collected by PennDOT, and ultimately increase the amount of funding available for projects.  As the bill advances in the legislature, PA Walks and Bikes will pay close attention to the progress to ensure equitable funding is directed to initiatives benefiting bicyclists and pedestrians.

Funding available for Safe Routes to Schools Programs

Funding to schools for Planning, Education, and Promotion of Safe Routes to School Activities

Grants to support Safe Routes to School noninfrastructure activities in the 2011-2012 school year are now available. These activities involve the development, implementation, or expansion of programs that address the first four Es of SRTS: education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation. Schools are able to apply for noninfrastructure grant money beginning on Walk or Roll to School Day (October 5), and the deadline for submitting applications is November 15, 2011.

Find out:

  • How your school applies for a grant.
  • What should your school do to prepare for applying for a grant.

If your school is interested in applying for a grant, please see the Safe Routes to School PA Website