Put Bike/Ped Projects Back into the Transportation Bill

Old Man Mica is hurling rocks.

John Mica Holding Rocks
Congressman John Mica (R-Fl), Chairman of the Transportation Committee

The Transportation Bill released by The House of Representatives indeed does cut out all funding for cycling projects.

Per the League of American Bicyclists:

Last week, we knew the bill would be bad news for biking and walking. But we didn’t think it would go so far as to completely cut  every reference to bicycling and walking out of the federal transportation policy. House leadership is pressing to eliminate bicycling and walking in the Transportation bill:

  • Destroys Transportation Enhancements by making the program optional
  • Repeals the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school
  • Allows states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles
  • Eliminates bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs
  • Eliminates language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled”

But we can still save biking and walking in this bill. This week in the Transportation Committee, Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will stand up for bicycling and walking by offering an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School.   Mr. Petri and Mr. Johnson  can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their Representative on the Transportation Committee  again  today to urge them to vote  YES  on the Petri/Johnson amendment! If your Representative is not on the committee, please ask them to urge their colleagues to vote for the amendment.

Put Bike and Pedestrian Projects Back
Into the Transportation Bill

Put Bike/Ped Projects Back in the Transportation BillClick here, or on the image on the right to send a message to your representative in Congress in support of the Petri/Johnson Amendment to the Transportation Bill.

The League of American Bicyclists are tactful people, and had nothing to do with my stupid photo of John Mica holding rocks.

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20 thoughts on “Put Bike/Ped Projects Back into the Transportation Bill”

  1. darren says:

    Paging Tom Bowden, paging Tom Bowden. Mr. Bowden, what have we done to deserve this? Perhaps no amount of repackaging bicycling to appeal to theoretically conservative values can sway a Republican leadership that is convinced that bicycling is not worthy of transportation funding (the heroic stand being taken by Mr. Petri and Mr. Johnston an obvious exception). And perhaps that will always be the dividing line between Republicans, and those of us who clearly see the government (Federal and other) role in providing bicycle infrastructure and protection. Heck, the Republican leadership in our mutual home state will not even require that Commonwealth drivers exercise ‘due care’ around vulnerable road users.

  2. Tom Bowden says:

    I can neither explain nor justify what goes on in Micah’s head, but I’m pulling out all the stops to get everyone I know to support the Petri/Johnston Amendment. I have often thought that lumping bike/ped funding into a category with railroad museums and other pork barrel causes was one of our biggest problems, so restoring the references to biking and walking while leaving out the other stuff is the right move. Long term the better approach would be to have Bike/Ped stand on its own, not thrown in with other miscellaneous causes. Maybe if we can make the case that the slashers can get 80% of the cuts they want and leave bike/ped alone, there will be a compromise. I think we need to know what the inside game is here. I seriously doubt that it’s all about totally expunging cycling and walking from the federal government’s authority – since when has DC ever walked away from a taxable or spendable activity? I suspect that a big part of this is power politics and something else is afoot.

  3. Karen says:

    In all due respect Tom, I wonder if bike and pedestrian infrastructure is just too much European style socialism for the current crop of Republicans (and maybe a few Blue Dogs) to support? Doesn’t matter that biking and walking are affordable options that allow of people who can’t afford a car to get to work or a doctors appointment. Biking and walking are not the American way and we simply can’t have that.

  4. bergerandfries says:

    I know that’s said with tounge in cheek Karen, and darren you are right that the republicans seem to be making this a them vs us issue. I’ve been republican my entire life, but if the republicans choose to make this a them vs us issue, I will be voting democrat.

  5. BluesCat says:

    I think Karen is right: Bicycles are seen by the semi-official Republican party line as being a Third World form of transportation not suitable for Modern Americans.

    You see the same thing on the Democratic side of the aisle about a different set of issues: gun control, the so-called Dream Act, etc., etc. There are a few crossovers, on BOTH sides, but there is enough ossified thought on Capitol Hill to repair the Washington Monument and build a duplicate of it in a matter of SECONDS.

    I find it ironic that the U.S. Representative from MY Arizona district, a state virtually OWNED by the Republicans, is a DEMOCRAT! I sent my letter in to Ed Pastor, but I’m preaching to the choir!

  6. darren says:

    Mr. Bowden, this bill goes even further than elimating TE (which sure, getting lumped in with wildflowers and museums puts a non-transpo label on bike/ped). But it actually takes bike/ped OUT of CMAQ (where it competed with other congestion and environmental projects that were wholly transportation, and how DC and NYC fund most of their bike/ped work), takes bike/ped staffing requirements out of state DOTs, eliminates the win/win solution of railbanking, etc etc.

    I disagree that trading off costs for bike/ped concessions would work with this party (because the b/c of doubling existing bike/ped annual spending for the price of a small section of one freeway would yield huge benefits). This is very plainly about redefining transportation as cars and trucks only, and removing all choice in how urban communities can spend federal money. Under the veneer of ‘cost containment’, of course.

  7. Mark says:

    Shows how out-of-touch Washington politicians are with the public. Biking, and walking rate as the highest activities, and continue to increase, they need to get out more.

  8. Jeff Gardner says:

    “Transportation” is a commercial venue. Check Title 47; check the definitions going back to the first Black’s. It isn’t a minor point.

    Bike paths are, with some rare exception somewhere I’m sure, not commercial venues. Therefore, there is no legitimate Transportation Code authority for bike paths. Wanting it to be different isn’t the right answer.

  9. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – Title 47? You sure about that? I believe it is Title 49 that is Transportation. And TITLE 49 – TRANSPORTATION, SUBTITLE I – DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, CHAPTER 3 – GENERAL DUTIES AND POWERS, SUBCHAPTER I – DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION, SECTION 304 requires the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to “consult and exchange information about their respective transportation policies and activities” and “(3) coordinate assistance for local transportation projects; and (4) jointly study methods by which policies and programs of the United States Government can ensure that urban transportation systems most effectively serve both transportation needs of the United States and the comprehensively planned development of urban areas.” (Emphasis is mine.)

    AND if you look at Chapter 44 – Section 3531 (Declaration of Purpose for the Department of Housing and Urban Development), you’ll find all KINDS of “American quality of life” issues which are ANYTHING but COMMERCIAL!

  10. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – Oh yeah, and, in TITLE 49 – TRANSPORTATION, SUBTITLE III – GENERAL AND INTERMODAL PROGRAMS, CHAPTER 53 – PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, Sec. 5302 Definitions, part of the definition of “capital project” includes “(G) a public transportation improvement that enhances economic development or incorporates private investment, including commercial and residential development, pedestrian and bicycle access to a public transportation facility…”

    So, slice it any way you want it, bicycles (and people WALKING) are considered in the departmental definitions of the Federal Government as important parts of the American transportation system, so they’re CERTAINLY eligible for funding, right?

  11. Jeff Gardner says:

    Whoops, Ch 49. Sorry for the typo. I’m glad some else is reading Stuff, too, Blues.

    I agree with you on the part of 47 U.S.C. 5302(G) you found. But this cite is merely a statement saying what other benefits derive from Title 47’s commercial realm: namely, economic development or private investment. Its a long jump to read that this observation somehow places private investment or econ benefits under the authority of “transportation” as that specific term-of-art applies in law.

    5302 are chapter defs, not departmental ones. Moreover, the same (G) continues, admitting that the purpose of the statement you point out, that being “improvement [that] enhances the effectiveness of a public transportation project” and “coordination between public transportation and other transportation.” The bottom line of the morass of regs is that they can only apply to what govt is authorized to do. And what they can do is regulate commercial activity.

    We both wish it could be different for our cause. My only argument is that setting aside the nation’s fundamentals in order to achieve a worthy cause makes us no better than those we spend lots of time bashing. Cyclists, cycling, acts better than that. Let’s ‘be’ better than that off the bikes, too.

    Great talking to you, Blue. thanks.

  12. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – I guess I’m a little bit confused by your answer. 49 U.S.C. 5302(G) is talking about the definition of “capital project,” and if a definition is included in one chapter of the law for a particular department, it is by default a “departmental definition.” And it includes bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure as some of those “capital projects” which can be funded by the Federal Government.

    The Department of Transportation, under Title 49, is charged with doing MUCH more that simply regulating commercial activity. Under TITLE 49, SUBTITLE VII, PART A, subpart iv, CHAPTER 463, § 46317, the DOT is responsible for spelling out CRIMINAL penalties for transporting controlled substances (not necessary for SALE) and operating an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate.

  13. Jeff Gardner says:

    Blue, yes, no, maybe. The def cited clearly limits scope to “in this chapter.” It CAN apply elsewhere if the term “capital project” is not there defined, and if no defn exists in Black’s &c. Many, many terms are commonly defined differently within the same code — sometimes, even within the same paragraph. “Person” and “United States” are often good examples.

    Titles of departments, divisions and sections have no legal effect. So many things can be injected into any code. But you cite the text of regs themselves, where terms like “transportation” do have legal effect and are a completely limiting factor.

    Elsewhere, your Sec. 3531 cite is actually in Title 42. Look at the language. It is a declaration, it is not law. It uses terms like “assist”, “encourage”, “promote”, “consideration.” It sounds good but it is hardly law. It’d be like Congress declaring this ‘National Ice Cream Week” — which does not mean Congress has authority to go give ice cream to everyone.

  14. Max Power says:

    Conservatism and cycling are not mutually exclusive. Many conservatives are in favor of cycling as a traditional, self-sufficient means of transport.

    This is just congressmen looking to score points for re-election by pretending to be budget-cutters by making a big fight over a small item in the budget, rather than engaging in serious debate over the big budget items.

  15. Max Power says:

    Also, that looks like one of those recalled breast implants in Mica’s right hand.

  16. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – Okay, I follow you, and agree with you about that HUD declaration 3531. My purpose in bringing it up was not to trot it out as “law,” but to demonstrate that the requirements for cooperation between HUD and DOT go far beyond the commercial venue. And I would also agree that terms are often redefined as they move from title to title.

    But a limited definition of “Transportation” in Blacks law dictionary can no more limit the power of the U.S. Government to spend money on bike projects — or anything else — than Merriam-Webster can force Republicans to use the word “Democratic” properly.

  17. Jeff Gardner says:

    Blues, I completely understand what you are trying to say about HUD, DOT, &c. Read closely however and you will see that it is appearance only, entirely bound to the commercial “transportation” venue that is Feds’ ONLY authority. Read further into the ‘capital project’ defn you provided yesterday, even later in the same paragraph, and paras. thereafter.

    Regarding my law dictionary refs. Black’s (and Bouvier’s, from 1856 to the end of that century) is authority that Merriam’s or other reference cannot be because it is what SCOTUS uses for defs that interpret law. So, those defs, and the caselaw given therein, are the standing authority of that time. And, consistently, you’ll see that those references are to commerce, commerce, commerce.

    This is all a bit in the weeds. Moreover, it is most difficult on a website like this because people have a laudable end goal and want to parse whatever is needed to achieve it. Thus, the open season on scapegoats here on this forum, like the Republican party. This-all moves us away from the positive NRG and action needed to accomplish the great things people here are doing.

  18. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – I’ll apologize up front if I’ve given the impression that I’m scapegoating anyone. I characterize it as “Giving credit/blame where it is due.” (I’m as equally hard on anti-gun folks as I am on anti-bike folks.)

    You’re right, of course. Even if you and I were to sit down, pore through the monstrous amount of data that is the USC, and find a viable reason why Transportation — or some other government agency — could support funding for bike infrastructure, it would be nothing but an academic exercise. The folks on The Hill, with the most votes in their camp, will fund whatever they want to fund; whether it’s logical or really beneficial to the American people or not.

  19. Jeff Gardner says:

    I’m sorry Blues; I did not intend to imply that you were scapegoating. I only referenced an entirely common sentiment on this website in order to point out the dangers of such pilings-on.

    You hit the ultimate nail on the head. At this point of our lives and the nation’s history, legislators do whatever they wish. That is a larger matter than our bike commuting efforts here. But…when cyclists are doing the best of right things and willing to shape life to make it happen, stooping to the gutter level of dishonest legislators simply to get funding for a cause is hardly a valid justification. We’re better than that, Blue.

  20. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – (chuckle) As far as “stooping to the gutter level of dishonest legislators,” I will defer to a quote credited to Ross Perot:

    “War has rules, mud wrestling has rules – politics has no rules.”

    The reality of politics is that if YOU are playing fair, while the OTHER guy is playing down-and-dirty, you don’t stand a chance.

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