14 OCT 2009: Ask Sen McCaskill to support bicycle/pedestrian funding

Missouri delegation meets with Senator McCaskill at the 2009 National Bike Summit
In a congressional vote recently, Missouri's Senator Claire McCaskill voted against the crucial Transportation Enhancements program.

Transportation Enhancements currently provides funding for about 75% of the bicycling and walking facilities that are built in the U.S.--so eliminating that funding (as Senator McCaskill voted to do) would have been disastrous.

The Senate vote was technically to give each state the option to withdraw from the Transportation Enhancements program. However so many state DOTs--lacking any real accountability to the public or the public welfare--would have immediately withdrawn from the program that in effect if this legislation had passed it would have been the end of Transportation Enhancements funding.

Senator McCaskill evidently feels that a certain percentage of Missouri voters oppose spending money on bicycling and walking.

And she'll never change her mind on this issue unless she feels some pressure from those of us who support bicycling and walking.

We know that bicycling and walking is in fact the most cost-effective way to spend transportation money--for less than the price of an upgrade to a single freeway interchange, you can make an entire city friendly for bicycling and walking.

In talking with Sen. McCaskill's staff after the vote, we have heard two stories for her opposition to Transportation Enhancements:
1. She viewed it as a "States' Rights issue"

2. She views Enhancements as an earmark--that is, pork.
Some ideas you might include in your call or email asking Senator McCaskill asking her to support Transportation Enhancements:
1. State DOTs like MoDOT are in fact almost completely isolated from public input and many would have no public input at all except for federal requirements to do so. Agencies like MoDOT would drop Enhancements in a minute if they had the chance--because they know they can do so with no repercussions or accountability to the public. Agencies like MoDOT--with a great deal of input from large corporate interests like heavy constructions companies--made final decisions about transportation until Congress reformed the decision-making process in the early 1990s, requiring far more public accountability and input.
Putting programs like Transportation Enhancements in place was an important part of that reform--because 75 years of experience had shown Congress that state DOTs would completely neglect the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians when left to make decisions on their own.

2. Transportation Enhancements is not even close to pork. In fact Transportation Enhancements is a program exactly like the one Senator McCaskill herself has proposed to replace the highly politicized congressional earmark process: Enhancements is a highly competitive grant program where projects are submitted, scored, and awarded based solely on merit and need. Over 50% of Enhancements funds are spent on bicycling and walking projects. That is because those projected are very much needed in communities.
A call to Senator McCaskill's office (local or Washington) is the most effective way to let her know how you feel. Local offices note your comments and pass them along to the central office:
Cape Girardeau
Phone 573-651-0964

Columbia
Phone:573-442-7130

Kansas City
Phone 816-421-1639

Springfield
Phone 417-868-8745

St. Louis
Phone:314-367-1364

Washington D.C.
(202) 224-6154
Or you can leave an electronic message for Senator McCaskill here: