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Transportation bill would create federal complete streets policy

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On Tuesday, the secretary of transportation sent a multi-billion dollar, multi-year transportation bill to Congress. The bill, called the GROW AMERICA Act, sets great goals for America’s transportation policy and rewards municipalities using best practices to make streets safe for bicylists and pedestrians.

Considering the needs of all road users.

Encouragingly, the bill establishes a federal level complete streets policy; requiring that every project receiving federal money must consider all modes of transportation.

Local control and involvement.

The bill includes strong language about community involvement and calls for community input during both the development and implementation of transportation plans.

Right to the road.

If passed, this bill would repeal the mandatory sidepath provisions in federal lands. Currently, in federal lands, riders are required to ride on a trail instead of the road if a road is located within 100 feet.

Funding opportunities for bike/ped projects.

It’s reassuring to see funding sources for bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects clearly indicated. Specifically, in the bill bike/ped projects are eligible for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER). And the bill creates the Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) program, which makes funding available for localities while incentivizing the use of best practices and innovations.

Safety.

The bill takes a step toward pushing funding to areas of significant biking and walking fatalities. It requires that if more than 5% of the state fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians and the state transfers funding to 402 grants, then 30% of the transfer has to go to biking and pedestrian projects. This is good news for Pennsylvania: According to the 2014 Alliance Benchmarking Report, 11% of all traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania are pedestrians and 1.2% are bicyclists.

So what’s next?  Since this bill came from the President’s administration and control over the introduction and passage of bills lies with Congress, the bill mostly exists as goals set by the executive branch. Each house in congress will likely introduce a transportation bill and work to come to agreement before passing a final version. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook for more updates as the discussion continues.

For more analysis of the GROW AMERICA Act visit League of American Bicyclists & Streetsblog.


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