This week, the US House and Senate will debate and likely vote on legislation to reauthorize the transportation law that expired almost 2-1/2 years ago. And, sadly, both the Senate version (MAP-21) and the House version (HR7) have stripped bare all funding for pedestrian and bicycle programs. Gone are the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program used to build sidewalks, bike lanes, and shared use paths across America, as well as the Safe Routes to School program that has successfully reintroduced school-aged children in communities across our land to the simple act of walking or riding a bike to school -- something most of us took for granted growing up. In the House, even a bi-partisan, Republican-sponsored amendment to restore these programs was voted down in the Transportation Committee. Only a NO vote to HR7on the House floor can save the day now.
At a time of economic turbulence and runaway federal deficits, it may feel especially awkward to stand and demand money for bike/ped projects. But, we are not asking to spend more. We ask only that what we do spend on transportation in America be allocated fairly to all modes and not dedicated solely to the automobile. Existing law is already far less than fair, as evidenced by the 2012 Benchmarking Report from the Alliance for Walking and Biking. While walking and biking account for 12% of the trips made in America, only 1.6% of our transportation dollars are spent for bicycle or pedestrian facilities. Worse yet, 14% of the fatalities in vehicle crashes on our roadways are deaths to pedestrians and cyclists. In the past four years alone, some 20,000 pedestrians and 2,800 cyclists nationwide died for the simple act of walking or biking -- by choice or necessity -- on our roadways.
In a situation crying out for doing more to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable transportation system users, Congress is poised to make the overnight switch to doing nothing at all. It's staggering.
We need to speak up now. There is not time to wait. If you need more information to understand why these proposed bills are so bad, please read these:
- Transportation for America: Make a call to oppose House transportation bill so “uniquely bad” that it “defies belief”
- Alliance for Walking and Biking: Save Our Streets: Oppose the House Bill, Support the Senate Amendment
- League of American Bicyclists: Boehner Bike Path Blog is Baloney, Say Bicyclists
For an easy method to write both Georgia Senators and your Representative, click here. It's very important that you also follow up Monday morning with phone calls:
Senator Saxby Chambliss: 202-224-3521
Senator Johnny Isakson: 202-224-3643
Representative Austin Scott: 202-225-4272
Representative Rob Woodall: 202-225-6531
We who hesitate are lost. Act now.