Analysis of the Bush administration SafeTEA proposal, 19 May 2003

SAFETEA is the first proposal to be put on the table as a candidate for TEA21, the federal government's transportation funding bill.

The Bush administration put forward this draft of the bill as the first step in creating the new transportation funding bill.

Bicyclists and pedestrians across the country need to keep in contact with their elected representatives to make sure the bike/ped activity receives the emphasis and funding it needs in the next funding bill.

Click here to find contact info for your elected officials.

STPP's evaluation of the Bike/Ped provisions of SAFETEA:
The Administration’s SAFETEA bill supports the America Bikes agenda in the following areas:

* Retains the Enhancements program with no new categories or transferability. Also retains other key programs: CMAQ, Scenic Byways, Rec Trails
* Maintains broad eligibility of bicycles and pedestrian projects in major funding categories
* Continues funding for a bicycle/pedestrian information clearinghouse (sec 1611(l)).
* Adds bicycling and pedestrian groups to the list of interested parties commenting on state & MPO transportation plans (sec 6001).

However, the bill takes several steps backwards:

* No increase in CMAQ funding, despite a doubling of non-attainment areas. Adds various road-expanding categories. (sec. 1601 & 1701)
* Funding for Enhancements is cut by nearly 15% as funding for the Surface Transportation Program is reduced.
* Eliminates the metropolitan Transportation Improvement Plan (sec. 1501). This fiscally constrained plan increases fiscal responsibility and provides a forum for significant public input.
* Provisions to weaken 4(f) protections may imperil public park and recreation lands and wildlife refuges (sec. 1604). These lands provide important recreational opportunities for bicyclists and pedestrians.
* A new provision attacks railbanking by requiring state to indemnify the federal government in case of any “takings” claims on railbanked corridors. (sec. 1617). Few states will accept this burden.
* Adds several unfortunate provisions to the Recreational Trails program: (sec. 1606)
- mandates a motorized/non-motorized split on state trail committees
- declares that these committees “must be used to develop statewide trail program policy.”
- requires that 10% of Rec Trails funding be used on Youth Corp projects.
- Removes the ability for a state to apply for a waiver from the funding split (30% motorized, 30% non-motorized, 40% either)
- Increases the funding from $50 million to $60 million a year, far short of the $143 million requested by the Coalition for Recreational Trails.

SAFETEA misses several important opportunities

* SAFETEA includes no mention of Safe Routes to School, despite increasing concerns about childhood obesity and inactivity.
* Despite the name SAFETEA and an increase in safety funding, the bill merely rearranges existing safety titles to form a new Program (sec. 1402). It adds no new policy or provisions to increase the safety of bicycling and walking, despite those modes accounting for 13.4% of fatalities on our roads. The “National Blue Ribbon Commission” on highway safety is not directed to consider bicycle and pedestrian crashes. (sec. 1401)
* Does not include “routine accommodation” language, ignoring the FHWA guidance in 2000 which directs states accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in new highway projects and reconstructions.
* Does not include bicycling and walking in new safety program of federal lands highway program. (sec. 1804)
* Does not add bicycles to the commuter tax benefit.