• Safety Act Language for Walking and Cycling Is Included in Federal Transportation Bill Approved by Senate Committee

    by  • May 20, 2014 • Cool People, Legislation and Policy, Safety • 4 Comments

    The "Big 4": Senator Tom Carper (Delaware), Senator David Vitter (Louisiana), Senator Barbara Boxer (California) and Senator John Barrasso (Wyoming)

    The “Big 4”: Senator Tom Carper (Delaware), Senator David Vitter (Louisiana), Senator Barbara Boxer (California) and Senator John Barrasso (Wyoming)

    Last week, the United States Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 2322, known as the “MAP-21 Reauthorization Act”. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member of the Committee, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.


    Senator Carper tweeted that “Whether you drive a car, ride rail, or bike or walk, this bill would improve your commute and your quality of life.” Is he right about that?

    The League of American Bicyclists gave the bill a “B+”:

    “Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and her leadership colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee published their eagerly anticipated proposal for the next transportation bill — and the proposal gets a solid B+ rating from the League…

    Specifically, the bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a specific non-motorized safety performance measure — a key ask at the last two National Bike Summits and the subject of a concerted campaign over the past 18 months…”

    “The bill certainly doesn’t do everything that we asked, but overall it’s very positive.”

    I agree with the League’s analysis, particularly with regard to highlighting the inclusion of a safety “performance measure” from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (Senate Bill 1708). Just as in Senate Bill 1708, the Senate EPW Committee bill includes important language (shown in red below) to the section of the United States Code governing the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (“HSIP”).

    USC Title 23 Section §150. National goals and performance management measures
    (c) Establishment of Performance Measures
    (4) Highway safety improvement program.-For the purpose of carrying out section 148, the Secretary shall establish measures for States to use to assess
    (A) serious injuries and fatalities per vehicle mile traveled;
    (B) the number of serious injuries and fatalities for both motorized and nonmotorized transportation.

    Why are these 6 words important?

    Last year, overall traffic fatalities fell in Delaware to their lowest level in 50 years. But this decline has been entirely driven by a decline in motor vehicle occupant fatalities. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have not fallen. In fact, over a quarter of traffic fatalities in Delaware are now pedestrians. Over 25%!


    By adding the six words (from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act), however, the Senate EPW Committee bill would create a “performance measure” for nonmotorized transportation safety for the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). And that is critically important because HSIP is the $2.4 billion annual federal program to improve road safety in the United States. It is the only federal program focused entirely on road safety. But, up to now, this program has not been used (much) to improve either pedestrian or cyclist safety. Look at these Delaware numbers for the program:

    Source: FHWA Fiscal Management Information System

    Source: FHWA Fiscal Management Information System

    But by making “nonmotorized transportation” into a performance measure for the HSIP program, the Senate EPW bill would create, for the first time, a “yardstick” by which departments of transportation can start to hold themselves accountable for pedestrian and cyclist safety. It creates a number to measure and that’s critical because without a number to measure, how can DOT leaders be expected to manage?

    As one of the “Big 4” negotiators of the Senate EPW bill approved last week, we almost certainly have Senator Carper to thank for the inclusion of this important safety provision in the committee bill. But we also have Senator Coons to thank, who agreed to be a co-sponsor of the original Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act in the Senate in March.


    Senator Chris Coons and Representative John Carney were both co-sponsors of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.


    Please add your own thanks to both Senator Carper and Senator Coons!

    Thank Senator Carper for including safety language for walking and cycling in the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act HERE.

    Thank Senator Coons for being a co-sponsor of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (which helped get safety language for walking and cycling in the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act)  HERE.



      James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware.






    B+ for Boxer Bill (League of American Bicyclists)

    • EPW Committee Unanimously Approves Major Bipartisan Transportation Bill, MAP-21 Reauthorization Act

    • MAP–21 Reauthorization Act (S.2322)

    • Senator Coons and Representative Carney Will Co-Sponsor the Bicycle and Pedestrian Road Safety Act

    • House Majority Leader Will Lead Delaware’s Cycling Delegation to Washington DC

    • Road Safety in Delaware: How We Can Reduce the Number of Dead Pedestrians (Part 1)

    • DEFEAT FOR CYCLING: Boxer-Mica Law Eliminates 20 Year Transportation Enhancements Program

    Why Cyclists Get Hit

    Stop SMIDSY

    • News Journal Front Page: “Pedestrians at high risk”

    • Traffic Fatalities Are Declining in Delaware…Except for Pedestrians and Bicyclists


    James Wilson is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (by whom he was named the 2014 Professional of the Year, Nonprofit Sector), the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Delaware Bicycle Council. He serves on the board of directors of Delaware Greenways and as the co-chair of the policy committee of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin and is the only registered lobbyist for cycling and walking in Delaware. He helped create, and continues to lead Bike Delaware's participation in, the Walkable Bikeable Delaware campaign. During his tenure as Bike Delaware's executive director, Delaware advanced in the national Bicycle Friendly State rankings for five years in a row, farther and faster than any other state, ever. Delaware is now officially ranked as the #3 Bicycle Friendly State in America.

    4 Responses to Safety Act Language for Walking and Cycling Is Included in Federal Transportation Bill Approved by Senate Committee

    1. Frank Warnock
      May 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      This bill has virtually no chance of passing, and it’s ashame the Bike Delaware would rather cover this kind of zero-hope nonsense when we have urgent, pressing safety issues that need the support of De’s primary Advocacy Org. If you choose to walk or bike instead of drive, you are socialist, liberal, or at least a Democrat. This bill will meet a certain death once it gets to the House.

      • May 21, 2014 at 8:37 am

        Frank, back in March, you commented that the legislation had only a 1% chance of passing:


        Now the legislation has cleared an important hurdle by being included in the Senate EPW committee bill. But instead of adjusting your estimate of the chance of passage upwards (5%?, 10%?), you seem to have adjusted it downwards (“virtually no chance of passing”, “zero-hope nonsense”, “the bill will meet a certain death once it gets to the House”.)

        Maybe you’re right. But a lot of smart people at the League of American Bicyclists think you could be wrong. And so did Delaware’s Longhurst cycling delegation to DC in March. And so do we.

        If it turns out this legislation fails, we will give you a shout-out for your pessimistic realism. But if it succeeds, I hope you will be gracious enough to admit that you were wrong.

        • Brian Fahey
          May 26, 2014 at 7:58 am

          It’s so difficult to figure out political affinity, but Frank has made it easy. If you ride a bike you’re a socialist. That makes George Bush a socialist (he rode with Lance Armstrong). There is also a Ronald Reagan Heritage Bicycle Ride annually and if you look it up you can see plenty of pictures of President Reagan on his bike. It’s good to know that socialism has such a big tent!

    2. Pingback: Transportation Bill to Improve Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety | Citizens Planning and Housing Association, Inc.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *