Some small advances for walking/bicycling in the federal Energy Bill

The recent federal Energy Bill (full text here) was to include a suite of conservation measures. The Bicycle Commuter Act, which would have allowed employers to give tax-free subsidies to bicycle commuters similar to those they can now give to carpoolers and transit riders, was part of this proposal.

Unfortunately the entire suite of conservation measures was stripped from the bill at the last minute, by a vote of 59-41 in the Senate (60 votes required to pass).

Some small but important measures did make it into the final version of the bill that was signed by the President Bush:

  • Sec. 1131--Increased federation share for CMAQ

    -- states, at their discretion, can now increase federal share of CMAQ projects from the current 80 percent to 100 percent.

  • Sec. 1132--Distribution of rescissions

    -- state DOTs are now supposed to take any rescissions from all funded programs proportionally. In the past some states have taken rescissions disproportionately from bicycle & pedestrian programs.

  • Sec. 1133--Complete Streets

    -- Sense of Congress to include "Complete Streets" design when constructing new roads or rehabilitating existing ones.
The Complete Streets proposal is particularly important, especially since MoBikeFed and our allies are preparing a Complete Streets bill to introduce in the Missouri General Assembly.

The federal Complete Streets bill is only a "sense of Congress" and so not binding--but it does give an indication of the way the winds might blow when the Complete Streets Amendment is introduced again in the next federal transportation bill.

And it does support our position--that we need to start building Complete Streets now.

Full text of the relevant sections from H.R 6:

SEC. 1131. INCREASED FEDERAL SHARE FOR CMAQ PROJECTS.

Section 120(c) of title 23, United States Code, is amended--

(1) in the subsection heading by striking `for Certain Safety Projects';

(2) by striking `The Federal share' and inserting the following:

`(1) CERTAIN SAFETY PROJECTS- The Federal share'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

`(2) CMAQ PROJECTS- The Federal share payable on account of a project or program carried out under section 149 with funds obligated in fiscal year 2008 or 2009, or both, shall be not less than 80 percent and, at the discretion of the State, may be up to 100 percent of the cost thereof.'.


SEC. 1132. DISTRIBUTION OF RESCISSIONS.

(a) In General- Any unobligated balances of amounts that are appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund for a fiscal year, and apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code, before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act and that are rescinded in fiscal year 2008 or fiscal year 2009 shall be distributed by the Secretary of Transportation within each State (as defined in section 101 of such title) among all programs for which funds are apportioned under such chapter for such fiscal year, to the extent sufficient funds remain available for obligation, in the ratio that the amount of funds apportioned for each program under such chapter for such fiscal year, bears to the amount of funds apportioned for all such programs under such chapter for such fiscal year.

(b) Adjustments- A State may make adjustments to the distribution of a rescission within the State for a fiscal year under subsection (a) by transferring the amounts to be rescinded among the programs for which funds are apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code, for such fiscal year, except that in making such adjustments the State may not rescind from any such program more than 110 percent of the funds to be rescinded from the program for the fiscal year as determined by the Secretary of Transportation under subsection (a).

(c) Treatment of Transportation Enhancement Set-Aside and Funds Suballocated to Substate Areas- Funds set aside under sections 133(d)(2) and 133(d)(3) of title 23, United States Code, shall be treated as being apportioned under chapter 1 of such title for purposes of subsection (a).


SEC. 1133. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING USE OF COMPLETE STREETS DESIGN TECHNIQUES.

It is the sense of Congress that in constructing new roadways or rehabilitating existing facilities, State and local governments should consider policies designed to accommodate all users, including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and people of all ages and abilities, in order to--

(1) serve all surface transportation users by creating a more interconnected and intermodal system;

(2) create more viable transportation options; and

(3) facilitate the use of environmentally friendly options, such as public transportation, walking, and bicycling.