U.S. House committee votes to cut bike/ped funds
Cyclists and U.S. Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin came up two votes short on February 2 in their effort to secure dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian projects in the House transportation bill.
As 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 nonmotorized 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, a Wisconsin Republican, joining the majority.
On his blog, House Speaker John Boehner said the vote by the Ways and Means Committee "will stop taxpayer dollars being siphoned off for noneconomic projects - such as beautification and bike paths - which currently receive 25 percent of Highway Trust Fund expenditures."
But Dave Schlabowske, communications director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, said that in truth only 1.6 percent of the federal transportation budget is spent on bicycling and walking "even though they make up 12 percent of all trips and account for 14 percent of all fatal crashes."
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.
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