Recap from the 2015 National Bike Summit
Bikey people from 48 states descended on Washington DC last week for the National Bike Summit, NYBC was there to lead the New York State delegation, which included local advocates from Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Streets PAC, Recycle-a-Bicycle, Rochester Cycling Alliance, and the Long Beach Streets NY.
The fight over the transportation funding has begun in Congress, and we are already seeing attempts to eliminate federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian program – either by stripping funding completely or removing eligibility for projects. As a reminder, Governor Cuomo awarded $70 million to 68 bicycle, pedestrian and multi-use trail projects in 2014 through the federal Transportation Alternatives program. If some members of Congress get their way, this program would be eliminated.
For this reason the Bike Summit Lobby Day this year was focused on making sure our Senate and House representatives understand the importance of the Transportation Alternatives Program in New York. We want our lawmakers in Washington to know there is a strong pro-bike constituency in their district that cares about this issue.
Specifically our goal was to make lawmakers accountable for their position on continuing funding for bicycling and walking before any votes occur on the issue. New York has five House members serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and both Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand have a direct role in shaping the next federal transportation bill from their positions on the Finance and Environment and Public Works committees, respectively.
Additionally we joined the League of American Bicyclists in their efforts to secure co-sponsors for two pieces of legislation.
On the House side, the Vision Zero Act would create an incentive program that directs a percentage of existing safety funding to communities who embrace the Vision Zero approach to lowering and ultimately eliminating traffic fatalities. If created the program would provide grants for communities with Vision Zero policies to both plan and implement Vision Zero through innovative engineering, education and enforcement projects.
On the Senate side, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act (TAPIA) would improve the TAP program through a number of small changes to ensure that municipalities could more efficiently and effectively access the funding. These changes include making NGOs and small MPOs eligible to apply for funding and removing “treatment of project language” that created additionally regulatory hurdles for TAP projects.
New York communities are eager to make meaningful investments in safe, accessible streets so that residents and visitors can bike and walk. Federal funding is an essential part of the funding mix, especially in New York, where there are no dedicated state dollars for these projects.
Stay tuned for an action alert and to learn more about how you can make your voice heard on this important issue.