Bicyclists shouldn’t expect new bike paths any time soon — not if a bill introduced last week by Representatives Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) becomes law.
Touted by the representatives as the “Right of Way for American Drivers Act,” the bill would completely eliminate a program known as “transportation alternatives,” the largest source of funding for biking and walking infrastructure in the country.
In a press release, Rep. Johnson said “every time commuters fill up at the pump, some of their gas tax dollars go towards projects like buggy trails and bike paths rather than where they are needed most — roads and bridges. My bill would right this wrong.”
The bill does not provide long-term federal funding for transportation, something Congress hasn’t authorised in six years. Nor does the bill have any effect on the gas tax, which has remained at a constant 18.4 cents-per-gallon since 1993.
Neither representative responded immediately when asked if they support any current long-term transportation funding bills.
Texas and Missouri, the states represented by Johnson and Hartzler, could both stand to receive more funding for bike projects. The states ranked 30th and 34th, respectively, in a ranking of most bike-friendly states.
Rail-to-Trails, an organisation that builds bicycle and pedestrian trails from old railroad thoroughfares, quickly denounced the proposed legislation.
“If the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is eliminated, communities across the country will lose the funding they need to make wise investments in active-transportation options at a fraction of the cost of car-only transportation infrastructure,” said Patrick Wojahn, Director of Government Relations. “These attacks on TAP are simply unwise and unacceptable.
According to the National Household Travel Survey, 12% of all trips in the U.S. are made on foot or bike.
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