For the past two weeks, we have been getting updates from our federal partners who worked diligently to save funding for biking and walking in the now-infamous transportation bill. We did our part by keeping in constant contact with Senators Brown and Kerry and Representatives Markey and Capuano, all key players in the debate. And all of you did your part responding to our Action Alerts, letting Congress know that bicycling is a priority for voters! The bill itself is lengthy and complicated, but the bottom line is that the pool of dedicated funding for projects that serve the needs of bicyclists is shrinking. Where it is not shrinking, it is becoming less dedicated to biking and walking projects, with other types of projects now allowed to compete. The cuts are drastic and disproportionately impact walking and bicycling.
At a concrete level, this means more work for MassBike to make sure Massachusetts makes the most of fewer resources for bicycling. For the duration of this bill (at least two years), we must push the state to not exercise their new ability to opt out of using a significant amount of funding for biking and walking projects, and we must keep project momentum moving forward with a shrinking pot of available money for their implementation.
The only way to respond is to push harder at all levels to ensure that the voices of bicyclists are heard. For years, Massachusetts has lagged behind other states in making use of dedicated funding for bicycling, but even so has put tens of millions of dollars into biking and walking projects. So the loss of dedicated funding provides ample reason to strengthen the push for bicycling improvements to be funded out of standard MassDOT sources. Whether as part of Complete Streets projects or simply on a cost-benefit basis, we will not stop pushing for funding of the projects this state needs to continue making bicycling a viable, safe transportation and recreation option for all.
We are disappointed in this bill, though we can be proud of the efforts of bicycling advocates statewide and nationally. And we cannot deny that we and our state will be impacted by the changes.
However, our advocacy is not government funded. Our enthusiasm for our cause and our political support are not government funded. Our ability to come together as a community to push for what is needed to make bicycling better in our state is not government funded.
The support that allows MassBike to push state and local government to do more for bicycling comes, not from the transportation bill, but from our members and from Massachusetts cyclists’ willingness to invest their time, their energy, and their money into this cause.
We have new challenges to face starting as soon as the bill goes into effect in October. With your continued support, we will meet them head-on with strong statewide advocacy.
For more detail on the bill itself, America Bikes has provided detailed analysis.
And to help support MassBike’s work as we adjust to the new fiscal realities confronting our efforts, please click here to join us as a member if you are not one already, or to provide additional financial support.
Tags: federal transportation bill, massbike
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