Cyclists and Rep. Tom Petri came up two votes short Thursday in their effort to secure dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian projects in the House transportation bill.
As its written, the bill eliminates the $1.2 billion directed to states for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to Schools. In Wisconsin, it would cut more than $6.2 million allocated annually for non-motorized transportation enhancements and $3.2 million for Safe Routes to Schools.
Petri, a Republican from Fond du Lac, pushed an amendment to preserve the funding mandate. The House Transportation Committee killed the amendment 29-27, with Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisconsin) joining the majority.
A Senate version of the bill, which includes $260 billion to fund transportation projects over five years, includes the dedicated money for bike and pedestrian projects.
That provides some hope for cyclists, noted Dave Schlabowske, the communications director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.
“This is of course not yet the end of the battle,” Schlabowske wrote. “The House version of the transportation bill has many things even other Republicans don’t like about it and it must be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill, which is very different.”
Spending on bike lanes has been a frequent target for Republican budget hawks.
The Washington Post quoted Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster: “This is fundamental to what we’re trying to do here. Spending money for bike paths is nice, but that’s for our communities to decide to spend these monies. It’s unfair that we’re forcing he states to spend this money.”