Things on the Senate side are not much better. Senator James Inhofe, a lead negotiator in the Senate debate, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.’ This is in direct conflict with Senator Barbara Boxer’s commitment to maintain dedicated funding for biking and walking. However, the Senate is working towards a bi-partisan solution – and Senator Inhofe’s comments mean funding for bicycling and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.
Not in the National Interest?
Biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips in the US – even as funding for biking and walking projects only account for 1.5% of the federal transportation budget. – that’s more than 4 billion bicycle trips and 40 billion walking trips a year- including trips to work, school, shopping and for recreation and tourism.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are the victims of reckless highway design, accounting for 14% of all traffic related deaths. Two-thirds of all pedestrian deaths are on federally funded highways. Bicycling and walking programs build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways, improving accessibility and saving lives.
Biking and walking are important forms of transportation, and dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is a very efficient use of federal transportation dollars. Portland, Oregon built a 300-mile network of bike lanes, multi-use trails, and bike boulevards for the cost of one mile of highway.
These projects also create jobs, and build local economies. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46% more jobs than building road-only projects per million dollars spent. Cities that invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects turn downtowns into destinations, and capitalize on increased business activity.
Finally, shifting 1.5% of transportation spending has no impact on the federal budget, but instead, decreases transportation options for American families in a time of rising gas prices and an uncertain economy.
Help Protect Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails. Contactyour Representative and Senators, and tell them to reach out to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, and Congressman Mica to urge them to continue dedicated funding for these important biking and walking programs. We need every Senator and every Representative to speak out for walking and biking.