On Thursday, the U.S. Senate moved to protect funding for the Transportation Enhancement program, an initiative that helps expand transportation choices including pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and safety programs.
The amendment to eliminate these programs was introduced by Oklahoma SenatorsTom Coburn and James Inhofe who called bike trails "frivolous," and made eliminating them one of his top three priorities.
But as Shareable's Jay Walljasper recently reported, "programs to make biking and walking safer for everyone are one of the smartest investments ever to come out of Washington. Any politician wanting to eliminate them ought to open the pages of the venerable conservative magazine The Economist, which last week made a strong case for continuing to build bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly street designs ."
Eager to stand up for their right to bike and walk, close to 50,000 people from around the country sent emails and made thousands of phone calls to their U.S. Senators to voice their disagreement with the amendement.
As a result, Coburn was forced to remove the amendment, and funding for all federal transportation programs has now been extended to March 31, 2012.
According to People for Bikes, "the key, cost-effective programs that make bicycling safer and easier — Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails — will continue to receive modest, dedicated support — about 1.5 percent of the total federal transportation investment."
Keep in mind that while this does buy alternative transportation programs some extra time, the fight to keep them well funded is far from over.
Although recent developments in the Senate will undoubtdedly cause it delay, a proposal titled "A New Direction" is still lingering in the wings.
The pet project of House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chaiman John L. Mica, the proposal also aims eliminate dedicated funding for biking and walking programs across the country.