Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lack of action on federal transportation bill actually benefits bike-ped projects

Not everywhere, of course, but Sheboygan County and Minneapolis, as well as Marin County, CA, and Columbia, MO, have gotten far more money than they could have every imagined. And the money just keeps coming.


Because those four communities: one rural county (Sheboygan), one suburban county (Marin), one small city (Columbia), and one large city (Minneapolis) each got $25 million in the last five-year transportation bill under the Non-Motorized Pilot Program. That's $5 million per year for the life of the SAFETEA-LU bill. The goal was to see if a massive influx of funding could change the mode share and significantly improve walking and biking.

But every time Congress fails to pass a new transportation bill, they pass a "continuing resolution", that keeps money flowing to the same programs, in the same amounts, for another chunk of time. We are now 835 days past due for a new transportation bill. Yes, over two years. That means that each of the communities listed above have had another $10 million handed to them to keep trying to change their local transportation system towards being more pedestrian and bicycle friendly!

To see how they have done, you can click around on the NMPP site, but much of the information is not up to date, and many of the changes in behavior and mode split may not be apparent for a few more years. After all, some of the trails, bridges, and other infrastructure aren't even finished yet. And educational and encouragement programs are just starting to have an effect.

For us here in Wisconsin, Sheboygan County was definitely starting the farthest back, as far as being pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. They had to start almost from zero on their planning efforts and educational programs. The other had already done some of the work, and just needed the money to make their bike-ped dreams a reality.

We often read about how great Minneapolis is for bicycling. It was rated # 1 by Bicycling Magazine, and is #2 among the top 50 largest cities in the percent of work trips by bike. [Note that Madison beats Minneapolis, and ties with Portland, OR, but is not among the top 50 largest cities.] They have worked really hard, and I don't want to take anything away from the advocates, planners, engineers, elected officials, and everyone else that is working on making Minneapolis bike-friendly. But having $35 million (and still coming) drop on you helps a lot as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment