Rep. John Mica of Florida finally unveiled the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act today. It’s about as bad as it could be for those of us trying to improve facilities for walking and bicycling. Some of the wrongs in the bill can’t be helped now, but there are two things we should try to save:
- Safe Routes to School
- Dedicated funding for bicycling and walking.
The bill goes to markup Thursday in Mica’s House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, where Reps. Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.) and Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.) will offer amendments to restore specific funds for those purposes. Very soon after that the bill is going to the House floor and likely adoption.
If you haven’t already done so, please reach out to your member of Congress on behalf of the Petri-Johnson amendments. South Florida has nobody on T&I right now but your member may have a friend there. This link from the League of American Bicyclists will help you reach your member.
Funding via Safe Routes to School has helped Miami-Dade County correct hazardous streets in several school neighborhoods that a few years ago were hot spots for traffic injuries of children. The program is immensely popular — and effective — all across the country.
Over the past decade, Florida has used dedicated funding from a program called Transportation Enhancements to create or improve dozens of facilities for bicycling and walking. Our newest in the Miami area is the already-popular M-Path bridge over the Snapper Creek Expressway. Dedicated funding under TE has, in some states, enabled a decade of progress toward streets that serve all people, not just drivers.
There’s been huge progress in highway safety in the half-century since seat belts were first required, but pedestrian deaths are actually on the rise. Spending on the safety of walkers and bicyclists is disproportionally small compared to the deaths those modes of travel incur. That disparity is a disgrace. Let’s put a stop to it.