WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Fresh off a victory against a U.S. lawmaker’s attempt to remove federal funding for bicycle infrastructure projects from the federal Transportation Enhancements program, the industry is mobilizing anew against an amendment proposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, to devote all program funding to repairing the nation’s bridges.
Paul’s amendment, SA-821, is set for a Senate vote Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Calling on supporters to contact their states’ U.S. senators to oppose the proposal, Bikes Belong stated: “While we are all for bridge repairs, gutting the Transportation Enhancements program is not the way to get the job done. We must defeat this amendment and we need your help.”
In a similar call to action, the League of American Bicyclists stated: “If Sen. Paul’s amendment is successful, it would eliminate approximately $700 million in federal funding for FY2012 that is used to construct sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, trails and other infrastructure that makes it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around.”
Last month, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, withdrew an amendment that could have jeopardized federal funding for bicycle infrastructure following a vigorous industry campaign against the measure. More than 75,000 e-mails were sent to lawmakers in a 48-hour period, Bikes Belong and the League said.
While the Paul amendment threatens hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, Bikes Belong president Tim Blumenthal noted that the greater concern is the precedent the measure could set for the longer term. “In the next few months, Congress is going back to work on the next multi-year federal transportation bill, and what happens on this amendment could affect their thinking,” he said.
Blumenthal also said eliminating funding for cycling infrastructure that supports 4 billion bike trips a year in the U.S. won’t make a dent in the cost of bridge repairs, citing individual bridge projects that exceed $1 billion.
“It would take 80 years of enhancement spending to pay for the bridge repair backlog that we have,” he said. “We’re hoping that senators and members of Congress will realize they’re not looking in the right place. This is a very small amount of money [for bicycle infrastructure]. It’s very popular, it’s very well spent, and it moves people.”
For more information about bicycle advocacy’s stance on the Paul amendment, visit www.peopleforbikes.org or www.bikeleague.org. Click on the link above for instructions on contacting your state’s senator, including talking points.