Delaware’s Delegation for the 2011 National Bike Summit is rearing to go to Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 10th. They are (L to R):
Ceci McCormick, White Clay Bicycle Club (WCBC)
John McCormick, Past President, WCBC
Beverly Suarez-Beard, Bike Delaware
Frank Warnock, PR Chair, Bike Delaware
Amy Wilburn, Chair, Delaware Bicycle Council (DBC).
The 5 will be meeting with the 3 Cs: Rep. John Carney, Senator Tom Carper, and Senator Chris Coons. As Congress debates the future of transportation policies, programs, and funding levels against a backdrop of deficits and budget cuts, we must anticipate proposals to eliminate or dramatically change the status of the primary funding sources for bicycling, walking and trail programs. These include the popular and effective Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS), and Recreational Trails Programs (RTP). While we are fortunate that our Congressional delegation is known for its support of such funding, we must do our best to reinforce the importance of these programs, and ask them to stand strong in the face of increased political opposition in the new term.
Sadly, unlike last year, we cannot even consider asking for additional new programs, such as the Active Community Transportation Act, due to the change in political winds. In addition, legislation introduced in a prior Congress does not carry over to a new Congress; bills must be re-introduced. We must play defense in what we already have. Just 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars currently support bicycling and walking, although these two modes represent 12 percent of all trips in the United States. Bicycling and walking are growing in significance to our transportation system and yet only a tiny fraction of transportation funding is allocated to these essential and affordable modes.
Among the talking points:
• 16 percent of traffic fatalities in Delaware are bicyclists or pedestrians. Small investments in improving roadway safety not only make our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians but also make drivers feel more comfortable and reduce conflicts among all road users.
• Bicycling and walking improvements are relatively inexpensive, highly cost-effective investments that create significantly more jobs per dollar than road repair and upgrades; they also boost local small businesses and increase real estate values.
• In these tough economic times, we must invest in solutions that solve multiple problems: biking and walking are low-cost transportation options that improve safety, health and air quality; they reduce dependence on foreign oil.
In 1991, Congress passed landmark transportation legislation, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), that recognized the increasingly important role of bicycling and walking in creating a balanced, intermodal transportation system. That concept is even more important today as our nation struggles with multiple challenges such as budget constraints, energy, congestion, and obesity. These problems will only get worse as we add 100 million people to our population in the next 40 years. We need to look at smarter options to use our roads more efficiently. Bicycling is a simple, cost effective solution that helps save money, boosts the economy, builds physical activity into our lives, and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
Wish the 5 luck as they take on Capitol Hill during the 2011 National Bike Summit!