Federal transportation policy remains rooted in a 1950’s-era, auto-focused, highway-expansion mentality that is completely at odds with the real needs of the traveling public and their communities. The League believes that a 21st-Century federal transportation policy must support the following priorities:
- Improving the safety of all travelers: moving towards zero deaths on our highways
- Fixing our crumbling infrastructure: taking a fix-it-first approach
- Providing real multi-modal transportation choices and options: adopting a complete streets policy
- Achieving local economic development, health, and quality of life objectives: ensuring local control over major investment decisions
See below for more details on each of these priorities.
Our work is focused on the federal transportation law, which is regularly updated by Congress, and the US Department of Transportation, which implements the law in close collaboration with state departments of transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
MAP-21 requires the US Department of Transportation establish national performance measures related to transportation safety. We believe this must include specific targets for the reduction of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes to 50% of 2012 levels by 2020 and a further 50% reduction by 2025… on the way to zero deaths. States should be required to set their own performance measures to help meet this national target.
MAP-21 provides further opportunities for the Federal and state Departments of Transportation to improve the safety of bicyclists.
- broadens the eligibility of bicycle projects under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to include “areas with high crash potential” and to identify elements and features that connote an unsafe roadway: we ask USDOT to identify those elements of current highway design that make roadways unsafe for bicyclists and issue design guidance for states to make them safe.
- requires the collection and analysis of improved bicycle and pedestrian crash data: we ask USDOT and the states to improve the collection of bicycle use as well as crash data to establish comparable and consistent exposure rates, especially in traditionally underserved communities.
- allows HSIP to spent on local roads as well as those on the Federal-aid system: we ask states to open up the project selection process for these funds to local governments so they can adequately address bicycle crashes wherever they occur (or wherever dangerous roadway designs are found).
In the next transportation bill, the League will:
- Request incentives to ensure existing provisions are implemented and/or sanctions for those states that fail to address bicyclist safety adequately
- Propose the establishment of “safety non-attainment” areas in the five worst states for bicyclist safety and in those states where the three-year trend in crashes is rising. In these non-attainment areas, states will be required to spend a proportionate amount of their HSIP funds addressing bicyclist safety
No-one wins when roads crumble, bridges collapse and costly transportation infrastructure is used inefficiently and/or inequitably. The League believes the overwhelming priority for federal transportation funds moving forward must be the maintenance and more efficient use of the existing network of highways and public transportation. Making those networks more efficient includes making them safe and accessible to all users. Integral to that approach is implementation of the bicycling policy adopted by previous Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, backed up by:
- Detailed design guidance issued to FHWA Division offices and State DOTs
- Adoption by FHWA of the NACTO bicycle design guidelines
- Extensive training for FHWA and State DOT staff to bring them up to speed with this new design information, and
- Funding for evaluation and monitoring of innovative and experimental roadway designs
MAP-21 created the Transportation Alternatives Program by combining several separate funding programs for bicycling that had been established since 1991 to help retrofit a highway system that had ignored the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians for decades. Unfortunately, MAP-21 reduced the overall amount of funding for these programs by one-third, added new eligibilities, and offered various ways for states to opt-out of the program entirely.
The League urges States to implement the TAP by:
- Fully funding the program: not opting out of the program or transferring funds to other programs
- Fully implementing the program: quickly establishing a transparent, accessible grant-making process
- Fully staffing the program: maintaining staff focused on implementation of the Safe Routes to School program, and full-time staff overseeing bicycle and pedestrian activities in each state DOT.
In the next transportation bill, the League will:
- Request an end to the transferability of TAP funds and a restoration of 2011 funding levels
- Seek technical changes to make NGO’s eligible recipients of TAP funds and restore the 100% Federal share for Safe Routes to School projects
The League believes that bicycling should be a safe, viable and practical choice, especially for short trips, as part of a balanced and equitable transportation system that serves all Americans.
Fundamental to achieving this vision is adoption of a Complete Streets policy, at all levels of government, which ensures every transportation project and every transportation dollar contributes to creating a transportation system that accommodates all roadway users of all ages and ability.
In the next transportation bill, the League will propose a policy that extends to all federal highway, transit and Federal lands highway projects and programs. Federal transportation law should also incentivize adoption of state and local “Complete Streets” policies.
We also believe it is essential to establish a transparent and equitable transportation planning and project selection process that embraces the principles of “Complete Streets,” i.e. that is open and accessible to all.
To that end, in the next transportation bill the League will request:
- A guaranteed voice at the table for bicycling AND walking interests in the State and MPO planning process
- A more transparent process of developing statewide and MPO Transportation Improvement Programs
- A review for projects receiving 50 million or more in federal funding that evaluates alternatives that better balance mobility needs and health outcomes
- Improved public participation in the Federal Lands Highway Program, especially the Federal Lands Access Program
- An overhaul of the Fiscal Management Information System to better record and track the how funds are spent, and to ensure a stronger connection between spending and performance measures.
- Request a limitation on the use of TAP funds for projects that are not related to bicycling, walking and trail improvements
- Seek to eliminate language that inadvertently treats bicycle and pedestrian projects – even non-construction projects – as if they were major highway construction projects, and
- Seek repeal of the inequitable and unsafe mandatory sidepath use law that was applied to Federal lands highways in MAP-21.
The League believes that local elected officials are best placed to make informed decisions on transportation spending that will meet the needs and expectations of the traveling public while simultaneously achieving goals related to economic development, safety, health and environment. The League will learn from the success of the Cardin-Cochran amendment under MAP-21 and our recent research on policy-makers opinions and look for opportunities to increase transportation decision-making to local governments.
In the next transportation bill, the League will seek:
- Increased funds for local transportation projects, with a focus on communities traditionally underserved by the transportation system
- Removal of barriers to local decision making: local governments must have the tools and technical knowledge necessary to make informed decisions on transportation investments
- Incentives to enhance the ability of communities to develop and evaluate design, policy and program solutions to increase non-motorized travel
- An extension of the TIGER grant program that promotes multi-modal transportation investments at the local level.
Beyond the Transportation Bill
In late 2015 Congress passed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. This is a long term bill which won't expire until 2021 and will dictate how roads and transit funing is spent at the state and local level. Now that the FAST Act has passed, we are advocating for strong implementation of the bicycling provisions- in particular the new safety priority program.
In addition, the League will look for other legislative opportunities such as climate, health and energy to increase and incentivize non-motorized travel. We will continue to represent bicyclists with all federal agencies that affect us, including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Housing, Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration.
We will also continue our work with the Department of Transportation and related agencies and bodies that affect the safety and operation of bicycles on our highways. The League is an active member of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, a friend of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Bicycle Transportation, and many other similar bodies.