Monday, October 1, 2012

MAP-21 and Safer Cycling

Recently, here in Newport Beach, two cyclists were killed by motorists in a three day span. Both deaths were unnecessary and make me wonder exactly how this could happen given where the accidents occur.
So, while at Interbike, I took the opportunity to spend some time with folks from Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclists. The mission of both organizations are to be cycling advocates and have a lot of industry backing to support their missions.

The reason I wanted to speak with them was to find out how I could be a cycling advocate within my local community. Both have a lot of great programs that, if you have time, I would strongly consider how you can get involved.

More importantly, and back related to the two deaths, is legislation that is going to have a direct impact on funding for local cycling and walking programs. MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, funds surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately, the law came with significant changes to federal funding for bicycling and walking that could diminish our communitys' ability to seek and secure funding to build safe facilities for bicycling and walking.

While MAP-21 included funding cuts for bicycling and walking, states actually received level funding across all transportation programs. The existing programs have been combined into a new program called Transportation Alternatives ("TA"). As a result, States have a lot of flexibility in how they spend their transportation funds.

Bicycling and walking projects can be built using TA funds that may otherwise be used for safety, congestion mitigation, air quality and general transportation purposes. The process is more challenging and we, as cyclists, will need to get actively involved with our local government to ensure that are seeking funding that is available to them for local cycling and walking programs.

Me, I intend to get involved with my local government because, as a result of the recent deaths, cycling in Newport Beach has taken a right. I don't think it is a fair assessment but, without our involvement, those perceptions will not change.

My ask to each of you is to get involved with your local government and see how you can become a local cycling advocate. There are a lot of details behind MAP-21 but it isn't complicated and we owe it to our fellow cyclists. Take a look at this site, Advocacy Advance to see how you can get involved. I would like to think that by becoming local advocates, we can help to make cycling safer in our communities.

If you need assistance connecting with someone at Bikes Belong or the League of American Bicyclists, let me know. As always, comments, feedback, questions are always welcome!

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