August 9, 2005
Bicycling and Walking in H.R. 3 SAFETEA-LU
Congress has passed H.R. 3, SAFETEA-LU, and submitted it to the President for his signature. The legislation amends Titles 23 and 49 of the United States Code and authorizes the expenditure of $286.5 billion dollars over the next five years (2005-2009).
Bicycling, walking, and transit seem to have done pretty well. DeFazio, Blumenauer, and others also brought in the bacon for Oregon, including PSU’s Transportation Center, a Mega Project that includes fixing bridges, Street Car demonstration project, and other. However other groups, such as STPP, criticize the effort as a highway bill and failing to really increase funding for new transit.
What do people think, what new work does this create? How can we best shape Oregon’s’ transportation system in light of this new five year funding program?
The BTA website has more information on how H.R.3 impacts bicycling and walking.
[Editor's Note: Scott is being modest. He was instrumental in getting Safe Routes to School legislation adopted at the state level this session!]
August 10, 2005 8:23 AM
Jill Fuglister Says:
On the one hand, the whopping $2.7 billion transportation funding win for Oregon is fantastic. Investment in our state’s infrastructure is absolutely critical for our long-term prosperity. On the other hand, I'm wary about the HOW the funds will be invested. Will we invest them in a transportation system that serves the long-term interests and needs of Oregonians? Or will we overinvest in a system that is designed to meet the needs of cars - a system whose failure is approaching and whose flaws are too numerous to list?
Don't get me wrong, a bunch of the projects targeted for funding are great - bicycle improvements, streetcar, Safe Routes to School program, some of the bridge fixes, etc... However, several other projects that will receive funding, in particular, the Columbia River Crossing and the Sunrise Highway, if done wrong, have the potential to be really bad for our communities. By bad I mean things like fueling uncontrolled sprawl development, increasing air pollution in communities that are already experiencing pollution levels well beyond what’s considered safe, and redirecting a tremendous amount of our limited transportation resources away from other projects that could make our communities healthier and work better.
So, Scott posed the question, “what new work does this create”? I think it means that we've got to marshall the resources to make sure communities and livability advocates are at the table to help shape the design and development of these projects. With more money flowing into projects, there's more chance that things will get built...the good and the bad. Pardon the pun, but the decisionmaking table is where the rubber hits the road. And it’s going to take a lot of hours from a lot of people to make sure that more of that rubber is from bikes, buses and sneaker treads, rather than more cars.
August 12, 2005 9:22 AM
Christian McNeil Says:
This is a little bit off-topic, but not entirely.
I moved from Portland a couple of years ago and am currently living in Houston, Texas. In spite of fewer bike facilities and very auto-oriented development here, there's a substantial amount of bike commuting done around town.
Metro, the local transit authority, has one of the country's largest public bus systems, but none of the buses have any bike racks. A local bike advocacy group with which I'm involved is going in front of the Metro Board next week to make our case for bike racks on the buses. Each rack costs about $1000, and federal funds will cover all but about $200, which is about the cost of filling up a bus's fuel tank. One of the arguments we'd like to make is that the financial benefits of having the bike racks will outweigh the costs, by increasing ridership on the buses, extending the network, improving worker productivity, etc. Can any of you recommend studies that support such arguments? Did Tri-Met do a similar cost-benefit study when they installed bike racks on buses?