“How many people can say that they turned $3,000 into $2 million? Kevin Hardman and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin can,” wrote Darren Flusche, a policy analyst with the League of American Bicyclists on the organization’s website August 1.
Flusche credited the BFW’s recent success restoring $2 million in dedicated bicycle and pedestrian funds over two years cut from the state budget with a $3,000 Advocacy Advance Rapid Respond grant.
Flusche’s account, slightly abbreviated, follows:
Since 2009, the state of Wisconsin has dedicated $2.5 million each year to support their Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Program (BPFP). The program matches and bolsters federal Transportation Enhancement funds to build bicycle and pedestrian projects. In 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation identified 56 projects in 30 counties to be constructed with the funds.
But Gov. Scott Walker draft 2011-2013 budget zeroed out the BPFP line item. The Bike Fed was concerned that the legislature would pass the budget without the bicycle and walking program. So they met with Gov. Walker during the Wisconsin Bike Summit. He agreed not to veto the budget if the Bike Fed managed to get the bicycling money back in. The Bike Fed hired a government relations expert and worked with Republican leadership and Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and a broad coalition of transportation interests to build support to restore $2 million for the program.
To help cover their expenses, the Bike Fed applied for and received an Advocacy Advance Rapid Response grant of $3,000. Rapid Response grants are part of the Advocacy Advance partnership between the League and the Alliance for Biking & Walking. They are awarded on a rolling basis for organizations met with unexpected opportunities to win, increase, or preserve funding for biking and walking.
“Reversals like the restoration of funds are not unheard of, but they are unusual. They show what can be accomplished in difficult circumstances,” Flusche wrote.
“This is an important moment for Wisconsin bicycling,” Hardman said. “These funds have been restored by a conservative Republican legislature and signed into law by a conservative governor. We will only move bicycling forward in Wisconsin through bipartisan support. This effort proves that we can get both parties to act in support of Wisconsin bicycling.”