The political situation in America is…well, it leaves something to be desired and the “say no” attitude of Republicans in the legislature is…ok, I’ll try to make this post a little less about politics in general and a little more about how federal funding for cycling is about to become the next victim of political grandstanding.
The federal transportation bill is set to expire at the end of the month and, without a new law to replace it, the provisions of the current law will need to be extended to ensure that federal funding for highways, transit and bike/pedestrian improvements continues. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has already said that he would oppose any extension that would include funding for Transportation Enhancements (the part of the bill that supports pedestrian and cycling improvements).
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) seem to be right behind Coburn:
We are not opposed to initiatives to repair and improve infrastructure, and believe there are reforms that can be implemented that would improve their effectiveness in a manner that supports economic growth. Current law requires that states set-aside 10 percent of their surface transportation funds for transportation enhancements, which must be used for items such as establishment of transportation museums, education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists, acquisition of scenic easements, historic preservation, operation of historic transportation facilities, etc. While many of the initiatives funded by this mandatory set-aside may be worthy projects, eliminating this required set-aside would allow states to devote more money to the types of infrastructure programs you are advocating without adding to the deficit.
I’m a firm believer that funding for bike projects and other alternatives to driving do a lot to improve the overall transportation system in America. And I’m pretty much in agreement with this comment (hey it looks like it’s by Richard over at Cyclelicious-he doesn’t know me, but I feel like we’re buddies) over at dc.streetsblog:
With Coburn’s grandstanding, I say screw it and eliminate transportation funding completely. If Coburn doesn’t want to fund enhancements by holding all of transportation funding hostage, I say let him.
The League of American Bicyclists has a handy link that makes it easy for you to get in contact with your Senator and tell them to continue funding the Transportation Enhancements. Get over there and Take Action.