Transportation Enhancements Under Attack Again

27

Oct

Transportation Enhancements Under Attack Again

From the Alliance for Biking and Walking

Please Contact your Senators Again Today to Save Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding

It’s happening again. Just one month ago, Sen. Coburn (R-OK) failed in his efforts to strip funding for Transportation Enhancements from the six-month transportation extension.

Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking the lead in trying to destroy Transportation Enhancements. On November 1, the Senate will finalize the transportation appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for FY2012. Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair.

We agree on the need to keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and cyclists are important too. Thirteen people died when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007. Since then, close to 20,000 pedestrians and 2,800 cyclists have died on our nation’s highways, largely as a result of poor highway design and a lack of safe non-motorized infrastructure – exactly what the enhancement program was created to fix.

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. Even if every penny of these funds is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan will still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today — by which time all those repaired bridges would be falling down again.

Remember that the TE program represents less than two percent of the federal transportation program and these projects help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.

Remember also that last year, states sent back to Washington $530 million of unspent bridge funds in rescissions. The states are leaving bridge repair funds on the table, unspent, year after year. They should at least spend these funds first.

If the Paul amendment succeeds, it will make it much more challenging to sustain funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails in the long-term transportation bill that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee starts debating on November 9.

We must turn back any amendment to strip Transportation Enhancements.

Last month, more than 75,000 messages were sent to Senators to ask them to stand strong for Transportation Enhancements. Thank you, that was an amazing turnout – but we must do better this time. Every time someone in Congress attacks bicycling and walking, we must push back even stronger than we did the time before. And, we will keep doing it until bicycle and pedestrian funding is protected.

This is the third time in a month that a small group of Senators has targeted Transportation Enhancements, using a different angle each time. It is a waste of the Senate’s time and taxpayers’ dollars to focus on this small and valuable program when we are in dire need of real and viable solutions to fix our failing transportation system.

Please contact your Senators today to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements. And then please forward this message to all your members and supporters, with the link to the League of American Bicyclists Action Center.

7 thoughts on - Transportation Enhancements Under Attack Again

  • barry
    Reply Oct 27, 2011 at 11:19 am

    We have the political problem, the Republicans have been bought by the fossil fuel industries and most are now dedicated to destroying bike, transit, and intercity rail programs. As a former Republican candidate for the state legislature and an admirer of an earlier generation of Republican officials (e.g. John Chafee, Ron Machtley, Claudine Schneider, Frank Sargent, Tom McCall) who worked to improve transportation choices and protect the environment, its a considerable disappointment to me that that party is now run by right-wing extremists. If we are to save bike programs, Amtrak, RIPTA, not to speak of the social safety net, we have to face it, the Republicans have to be defeated.

    Except in North Providence where Democrats misrule!

  • Labann
    Reply Oct 28, 2011 at 2:47 am

    My only argument with Barry is that Democrats and Republicans are both corrupted by campaign financing, so they constantly seek to divide constituents into camps on phony issues rather than solve problems. Really what has to happen is a return to what the founding fathers envisioned, ordinary citizens invested into communities representing everyone because they are conscripted by their peers into office. And, as it is in other countries, every candidate could be given a fixed amount to use for a brief campaign with states directly paying costs.

    What we have are sociopaths running on conceit, power lust, and self interest instead of "public service", now a total alien idea in Congress today. Remember, even if they seem okay in lower office they're allowed to rise into incompetent leaders. Worst of all are conservatives, who bring nothing at all to the table, trying loudly to maintain status quo when decisive action and progressive approaches are needed. Look around you, despoilment everywhere. Leaves haven't even turned and it's already Halloween. Yet they'll back junk science that says humans haven't left a huge thumbprint on Nature. You don't need to ride a bike to notice, but it helps.

  • Reply Oct 28, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Alan, every once and a while we agree… to an extent. I'm fed up with the current two party system and also believe that neither party is serving this country well. I'd love to see us abandon the parties and go with a straight up popular vote, based on a fixed, publicly funded model so that we don't see these egregious campaign chests win elections. If nothing else, I'd like to see some voting reform. A simple system where people can rank candidates. Count all the votes, if there isn't a clear majority, drop the lowest candidate re-tally based on second order ranking, repeat until there is a winner. This little change would let people vote for someone not from one of the major parties and let people feel like they weren't "throwing" away their vote. Right now there is so much hatred between the two existing parties, that people vote for "their" party, even if they don't like the candidate who is running.

    All this said, I think people still need to engage the current process. It's what we have and it's important to speak out. Just because I believe the current system is less than optimal, it doesn't mean I can sit back and ignore these calls for action. Our current political leaders need to hear that people care about something other than bridges.

  • barry
    Reply Oct 28, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I too agree we need election finance reform, but I can no longer agree with the "a plague on both (major) parties" attitude, when one, the Republicans have totally turned their back on enviro protection and are gunning to destroy Federal programs that encourage biking, walking, transit and railroad investment and "livability" criteria that helps bicycling. On the other hand, the Obama adminsitration, especially the Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (an old fashioned Republican now totally out of favor with his party who is actually speaking at Brown University on Nov 7 4pm, a public event) , has significantly advanced the livability/alternate transportation agenda far more than any previous adminsitration. Saying all parties are corrupt sounds fair but just plays into the hands of the enemies of biking and the environment.

  • Labann
    Reply Oct 29, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Lahood is trying to raise bicycle infrastructure spending to 1.5% of federal total, which is ~$1 trillion/year. This was routinely forestalled for 8 years during Bush Administration, not just because he was a Republican but because he was bought and sold by Big Oil, ran up public debt by $12 trillion, and stuffed his friends' (i.e., Halliburton's) and own pockets. Not all Republicans condone with such criminal behavior, but some Democrats do.

    Luckily, as an Independent, I don't rely on infrequent graces of either or the lame approval of local advocates. Facts are facts. Whether your misguided opinions or sentimental customs correspond with reality is your own business, but they shouldn't become the basis of public policy.

    Bicyclists must submit to a code designed to protect people from the deadly momentum of motor vehicles. Furthermore, there are 16 laws in addition to which only bicyclists need comply, and other laws are totally impractical for bicyclists. It's overregulation favoring motorists. Bicyclists are not a menace; in fact, they do more to slow motorists and thereby enhance safety than enforcement, laws, signs, or stripes combined, but they shouldn't be applied like traffic cones or exploited for their beneficial presence.

  • Labann
    Reply Oct 30, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Rand Paul's bill would divert money for biking/walking to pay for repairing America's bridges. By the same logic, I'll order my Chipotle burrito without lettuce to lose weight, as quipped on WashCycle. It's so small a fraction it would hardly make any dent into trillions needed to fix bridges. Maybe basic roadnet premises are wacky, along with Paul.
    http://washcycle.typepad.com/

  • Reply Nov 2, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Word from the front line is that this amendment was defeated in a 60-38 vote. I'm happy to see that Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse both voted in apposition. Are you one of the 7700 people who responded to the request to reach out to your Senators? If not, why not? Please do so next time, it takes just a few minutes and let's our senators know that there are cyclists in their state who care.

Leave a Reply