It has only been three years since the final passage of SAFETEA-LU, the Federal Transportation Bill, but its expiration is just a year away and many are already furiously at work shaping the next Transportation Bill. Since 1992, funding and programs that support bicycling and walking have paid big dividends. With high gas prices, lower gas tax receipts, and significant changes in traveling behavior, it seems that everything is up in the air. Several movements are developing platforms and framing the transportation debate. Bicycle and pedestrian advocates must get engaged if we want to have seats at the multiple tables that others are gathering around.
In the last couple days, Smart Growth America has released a draft platform, and leaders of Thunderhead Alliance for Biking and Walking have attended meetings and participated in critical discussions. America Bikes is gearing up and will coordinate the collective goals of national bicycling and walking organizations including the Thunderhead Alliance. But, it is the work of local and state bicycle and pedestrian coalitions, now and in the future, that is most critical to getting elected officials on board.
As congress heads out for August recess, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your senators and representatives. Arrange an in-district meeting with your elected officials and their staff (or even a quick handshake pitch at an event). Talk with them about the important role bicycling and walking play in addressing the energy, global warming, and obesity threats our society is facing. The Complete Streets Act of 2008 (Senate Bill S2686 and House Bill HR5951) gives you a perfect platform to discuss these issues and a specific action they can take. It is a wonderful framing tool for the next Transportation Bill. Please check out http://www.completestreets.org/ for a wealth of resources, updates, talking points etc. Don’t wait until next year’s National Bike Summit, NOW is the time for us all to take action.