Success: U.S. House passes 6-year transportation funding bill - preserves funding for biking & walking

Success! The 6-year transportation bill has now passed the House, and the three anti-bike/ped/trails amendments were defeated. Huge thanks to everyone who took the time to contact your member of Congress.

Visiting Missouri members of Congress in Washington, DC.
Visiting Missouri members of Congress in Washington, DC.

Kevin Mills of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy summed up what happened with the six-year transportation re-authorization bill in the House:

Despite repeated attacks, core programs that support trails, walking and biking remain untouched since committee leaders introduced their bill three weeks ago. Although the country needs increased investment in trails and active transportation to meet growing demand, maintaining level funding is an encouraging outcome from a House that is deeply divided and unwilling to invest further in transportation. The Senate bill provided for a modest increase in funding, however, so the opportunity remains to negotiate for a little more.

Caron Whitaker of the League of American Bicyclists wrote:

Thank you to the work of everyone who weighed in to their Congressional Representative against the Carter and Yoho amendments.  In the end the amendments did not even make it to the floor for a vote. Sometimes the hardest work results in nothing happening- and that can be the biggest victory of all.

What's next?

What's next?  The bill now goes to Conference Committee, where (relatively minor) differences between the House & Senate versions will be reconciled. Then back to both Chambers for a final vote, and to President Obama for a signature. These steps should be relatively routine and happen relatively quickly now. 

The b-i-g questions in this process has been:  Would the House be able to pass a transportation bill this time around?  Would it be bi-partisan in nature?  Would it preserve bicycle and pedestrian funding--or reduce or eliminate it?

The answer to all those questions:  The House did a pretty good job this time around--better than many of us expected.

What would we LIKE to see out of Congress?

Make no mistake--we would like to see FAR more for biking, walking, and trails out of bills like this. At this point in history, it would make real sense to be investing far more in biking, walking, and trails than we currently are. Biking, walking, and trails are booming across the country, and we have many unmet needs in many communities. Biking and walking and so much cheaper than any other transportation alternative--we could double or triple our investment in walking, biking, and trails and it would have little or no effect on funding left for highways and transit projects.

 

Streetsblog has a nice rundown of some of the things it would make a lot of sense for Congress to do in the transportation bill--if those things had the votes on Capitol Hill.
 

But in the environment of today's Congress--and especially in the House, where a small number of influential House members have made it a goal to eliminate or reduce funding for biking, walking, and trails over the past few years--we have to consider it a major success when Congress passes another bill that basically continues bicycle, pedestrian, and trails funding has it has been for the past several years.

Thanks to the work of local, state, and national advocacy groups, and millions of supporters like you all across the U.S., attempts to eliminate or greatly reduce funding for biking, walking, and trails were successfully countered this year.

Congressman Sam Graves represents northern Missouri and is one of four Transport
Congressman Sam Graves represents northern Missouri and is one of four Transportation Committee leaders

Congressman Sam Graves supports funding for walking and bicycling--and plays a key role as one of 4 Transportation Committee leaders

Special thanks to Sam Graves, Congressman from northern Missouri, who was one of four ranking members of the Transportation Committee. Graves' staff told our National Bike Summit delegation that they would support funding for bicycling and walking in this bill when it passed this year, and he did.

 

Contacting your elected representatives makes a real difference--Thank you!

And as always, thank you for contacting your elected representatives and asking for their support for bicycling and walking.  When you make that personal contact with your elected representatives, it really does make a difference.

 

Coming up Thursday:  The 2015 federal transportation reauthorization looks so much better than it did 2012.  We're making a real difference as we work together to educate our elected leaders about the importance of bicycling, walking, and trailsover time. Read all about it here, coming Wednesday.

 

Working to create a world-class bicycle and pedestrian network in Missouri and improving safety for all road users are two of the primary goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking.

Working to ensure a fair share of funding for walking and bicycling in all transportation funding initiatives--federal, state, and local--is an important part of making that Vision a reality.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support of MoBikeFed help us turn our Vision into reality!

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