DENVER, CO (BRAIN)—When President Barack Obama signed off on the $787 billion economic stimulus package earlier this week, bicycle advocacy groups such as Bikes Belong were still trying to figure out what it all meant.
What it could mean is $700-$900 million in extra spending on bicycle-related projects. “This is very good news for bicycling,” said Tim Blumenthal, executive director at Bikes Belong. But then added, “If we play our cards right.”
Much of the stimulus money dedicated to transportation will be handed over to each state’s department of transportation, according to Blumenthal. Loosely translated: These state officials aren’t obligated to build bike lanes and bike paths with this newfound money. In fact, they’re much more apt to fund highway projects with the stimulus money—with the thought that it puts more people to work.
“New bike projects put lots of people to work,” Blumenthal said. “This is where people that care about bicycling can get involved.” Blumenthal added that bicyclists should get in contact with their local politicians and state officials to confront this very matter.
Not only can these bike projects be funded through transportation funds, but also through the energy efficiency and schools part of the stimulus package, with programs such as Safe Routes to School, Blumenthal said.
“The money we get [from the stimulus package] could be about a year’s worth of federal funding,” Blumenthal said.
For more on this story with additional insight from Blumenthal, be sure to read the March 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.