The Senate passed an extension of the Transportation Bill yesterday (Sept. 15, 2011) with a margin of 92-6. All current transportation funding and programs, including funding for cycling and pedestrian projects, will continue for six months.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time: at Interbike, near the Bikes Belong booth when they got the news. Executive Director, Tim Blumenthal came bouncing jubilantly to the booth high-fiving all of the Bikes Belong staff members. He even offered me a high five, which I awkwardly declined because I didn’t yet know what all the celebrating was about.
It was about the removal of the amendment from Senator Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, which would have blocked funding for just about anything that didn’t benefit cars.
Blumenthal said that a six-month extension was not only a reprieve for cycling and pedestrian projects.
[I]t makes it more difficult for him or anyone else to come back with the same kind of message.
His message was this government running this deficit can’t afford cost-effective investments in bicycling; every dollar needs to be put into roadway construction and roadway repair.
But we know that four billion bike trips are made a year here in the United States. And we’re talking about 13 percent of the trips that Americans make are either on foot or by bike, and only requires one point five percent of the money to support them, so it’s very cost effective. It’s real transportation. This is a solution. Individuals who ride bikes save money. Governments at every level save money when people ride bikes.