House transportation bill: a disaster for biking and walking

Since 1993, biking and walking transportation have been better supported with each new transportation bill: Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, Bike/Pedestrian coordinators at the state DOT’s, and more.

That’s could end soon.

Today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted on a new federal transportation bill — an 800-page bill that none of the legislators admitted to reading since its release just two days prior.

Current U.S. DOT Transportation Secretary and form Republican congressman Ray LaHood told Politico:

“This is the most partisan transportation bill that I have ever seen. And it also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen. It hollows out our No. 1 priority, which is safety, and frankly, it hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we’ve been about for the last three years. It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”

Oregon’s Representative Peter DeFazio called it “a transportation bill with an ideological wish list – drafted with Big Oil companies in mind – that will prevent Congress from passing a measure that could provide real transportation improvements.”

The League of American Bicyclists have put together this top 10 list of problems. For example, rail trails could not be funded by Transportation Enhancement dollars. The Dequindre Cut, Clinton River Trail, Macomb Orchard Trail, and other area rail-trail projects were largely built with Transportation Enhancement dollars.

A bipartisan amendment was introduced to restore dedicated biking and walking funding. It failed to pass, 27 to 29.

Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller, a longtime support of the Macomb Orchard Trail, voted against the amendment.

What’s next? According to this America Bikes timeline, the bill should hit the House around the week of February 13th.

Meanwhile the Senate is working on its own version of the transportation bill which not only maintains current biking and walking funding, it has some level of bi-partisan support.

Tomorrow the House Republican leadership has proposed killing dedicated public transit funding.

 

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