I’ve been reading this book called “On Bicycles” — imagine that, me reading a book! And I learned something: In 1992, Congress passed a bill that started funneling gas tax money — a very small fraction of it actually — to states to build better infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians.
It’s been going on ever since.
Now, Congress is working on a new transportation bill. As it stands, the new bill removes all of the dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian projects. I won’t go into all the details, because people who know more than I do already have:
- The blog of the League of American Bicyclists offers a fine explanation of the history of these programs and what’s at stake now.
- And the local GEARs blog makes it easy to take action and let your feelings be known. This post points out how the new bill “has the look and feel of a 1970 Highway bill.”
So what, you’re wondering, do we have to show for this 20 years of dedicated money for bicycle and pedestrian projects?
Here are some projects in Eugene were partly paid for by these federal funds:
- Significant parts of the Fern Ridge Trail, from Bailey Hill Road out to Green Hill Road.
- The new Delta Ponds bike/pedestrian bridge.
- The nice new path along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River in Springfield.
- The bike-pedestrian bridge over 18th Avenue at Westmoreland Park.
- The “traffic calming” circles on 15th Avenue, a designated and well-used bike route.
Also on the chopping block is a program called Safe Routes to School, which does such good work as teaching bike safety to school kids and improving street crossings, so we can encourage families to get kids walking and riding to school again. For an idea of what this program has done, check out this Google map.