Amendments to Eliminate Funding for Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Fail in Senate
Members of the Senate have repeatedly attempted to pass legislation to do away with federal funding of bike paths, walking trails, and other transportation enhancement projects. In a nation that struggles with health problems this appears shortsighted. Importantly, it is also contrary to the recommendations of traffic safety experts.
The money allotted for transportation enhancements, totaling $927 million for fiscal year 2011, is the largest source of federal funds for bicycling projects and represents only 2 percent of the nation’s highway funds. States have the option to use the federal aid for any of the 12 categories, but bike and walking projects typically receive about half the funds, supporters say.
Tuesday, November 1, for the third time in only two months, Republican senators tried and failed to pass legislation to eliminate federal money for transportation enhancement projects that would include bike trails and pedestrian improvements, when an amendment proposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to forbid the government from spending any money on enhancement projects and to redirect those funds to bridge repairs was defeated by a vote of 60 to 38.
In September, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Ok., proposed an amendment to eliminate the requirement that states set aside a portion of their transportation funds for enhancements, but later withdrew it.
In October, a proposal by Sen. John McCain, R-Az., would have retained funding for bike projects but would have eliminated funding for seven other enhancement project categories. This amendment also failed.
The House transportation bill is expected to eliminate the requirement that states set aside a portion of their funding for enhancements, according to Rep. John Mica, R-Fl., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Florida Has a Serious Problem
Here in Florida, Mica’s home state, we have a particularly severe problem with a high rate of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Florida is home to the four most dangerous metropolitan regions for pedestrians, according to advocacy group Transportation for America’s Dangerous by Design study, with our own Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater region holding second place. One reason is the prevalence in the state of high-speed multi-lane arterial highways with long distances between crosswalks. Florida has also seen far too many bicyclists injured or killed in collisions with motor vehicles.
The traffic enhancements that some of our legislators are seeking to eliminate can potentially save lives and improve the quality of life and health here in the Sunshine State, as well as in the rest of the nation. Fortunately, their proposals have so far failed. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to become complacent about this important issue.
As American citizens we have the right to be vocal constituents and let those who represent us in Washington know that we support funding for traffic enhancement projects that will contribute to the safety and accessibility of our roads for all users.
Clearwater Pedestrian accident lawyer Jim Dodson offers residents of Florida who were injured in a pedestrian collision his free “Florida Pedestrian Accident Guide,” to help explain the claim’s process and your legal rights in holding the careless driver responsible. Contact us today at 1-888-340-0840.
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