Last month, Bikes Belong asked our supporters to contact your U.S. Senators to oppose Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn’s plan to strip funding from the Transportation Enhancements program, which is the main source of the federal investment for bike projects of all types. Bikes Belong supporters and our allies generated more than 75,000 emails to Congress in 48 hours. This rapid and powerful grassroots response succeeded: Mr. Coburn withdrew his amendment and crucial funding for bicycling was preserved.
We are sorry to report today that bike infrastructure funding is under serious and immediate attack again – this time in an amendment proposed by Senator Rand Paul (KY) that would redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repairs. Mr. Paul’s amendment is set for a Senate vote Tuesday, Nov. 1.
While we are all for bridge repairs, gutting the Transportation Enhancements program is not the way to get the job done. We must defeat this amendment and we need your help. We need you to contact your state’s two U.S. Senators today and ask them to oppose this amendment. Here are four reasons why:
1. Everyone deserves to be safe. We agree that we must keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and bicyclists are important too. Nearly 5,000 Americans die each year biking or walking on our nation’s roadways.
2. Reallocating bike funding won’t make a dent in the cost of bridge repairs. Even if every penny of Transportation Enhancements money is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan would still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.
3. Transportation Enhancements provide essential transportation benefits, like reducing road congestion, improving safety, getting people active, and creating more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.
4. States don’t spend all the money they already receive for bridge repairs. Last year, states sent $530 million of unspent bridge funds back to Washington in rescissions – the states are leaving bridge repair funds on the table, unspent, year after year; they should at least spend these funds first.
This is the third attempt in a month by a small group of Senators to target Transportation Enhancements, using a different angle each time. It is a waste of the Senate’s time and taxpayers dollars to focus on eliminating this modest, cost-effective, valuable program when we are in dire need of real and viable solutions to fix our failing transportation system.
Please contact your Senators today to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements. (You can find your Senators, review basic suggested text for your email, and send your note directly from this link.)