Over the last day or two it looks as if congress has finally started to make progress on a transportation re-authorization bill. However, it looks like Republicans are trying to strip dedicated safety funding from the bill. Please call and share immediately as this is rapidly unfolding. Information via TCC below:

Because you live in Washington, you have a very important chance to help in an urgent way today.

The House and Senate are on the cusp of finally striking a deal on the transportation bill. We’ve heard alarming news that some of the good provisions we’ve fought hard for that would make everyone safer, give us more transportation options and repair our roads, bridges and transit systems could be sacrificed to get a deal done.

More than 680 people have died while walking on STATE roads since 2000. Yet Congress is considering scrapping the funding that helps communities make their streets safer.

Your Senators are in a unique position to influence the deal, and they need to stand up now and refuse to see these good pieces of the bill discarded in favor of just getting a deal done. But time is short – they’re working right now to hammer out the details and strike a deal by early next week.

Please call your Senators Murray (202) 224-2621  and Cantwell (202) 224-3441  and leave this message with the person who answers the phone.

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [PLACE]. I’m calling to ask [SENATOR] to stand up for three important provisions in the transportation bill being negotiated right now.

1)    Please preserve the Cardin-Cochran provisions and dedicated funding in MAP-21 that provide grants to communities to make walking and biking safer and prevent hundreds or thousands more preventable deaths. More than 680 pedestrians have died on Washington’s roads in the last ten years – this small bit of money provided in the Senate bill could help save very real lives.

2)    Please defend and preserve the Senate’s strong plan to make sure we repair our roads and bridges. With more than 391 structurally deficient bridges in Washington, we need the focus on repair to help reduce this backlog.

3)    Please ensure that our local public transportation systems are allowed to use some of their federal money to keep their buses and trains rolling during the recession. We need more affordable ways to get around during these hard times, not fewer.

Thank them for their time, and after you hang up the phone, please forward this email to all of your friends who live in your state. Time is extremely short and there’s great pressure to strip out these critical provisions in the bill just to get a deal done.

Thank you for caring about these issues!

the Transportation Choices team

19 Replies to “Immediate Action Alert: Protect Ped and Bike Safety Funding”

  1. The main reason roads are unsafe is that we haven’t built enough highways and interstates.

    There’s too much traffic on the small roads and streets.

    1. I know this is just bait, but traffic on small roads means slower cars and a safer pedestrian environment. And more freeways means cutting cities into pieces (see: Aurora, I-5).

      1. Yes, but I’m talking about sheer volume…not only in Seattle but the exurbs. There are too few East West highways and many times you have to travel up 5, 10 miles to find an entrance to get on a highway.

      2. Build some roads, John
        but don’t raise the Tax
        no more no more no more no more

        Had a crash, Jack
        almost passed away
        copay copay copay copay

        Build some roads, John
        watch America get Fat
        more back more back more back more back

        Had a heartattack, Jack
        he ain’t coming back
        no more no more no more no more

      1. Interesting that Germany with its Autobahn high speed roadways and acclaimed auto industry has such a low fatality rate by comparison?

      2. Because Germany doesn’t give away driver’s licenses like candy like the U.S. States do.

        In fact why don’t we just replace the DMV with a self-service kiosk or better yet sell Driver’s Licenses out of a gumball machine?

      3. Exactly.

        Look at this map:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Autobahnen_in_Deutschland.svg

        Note that it’s almost a complete grid — or maybe a star topology with lots of places to get on and off a freeway.

        The point is to get cars into isolated roads away from pedestrians and bikes (and transit) as quickly as possible.

        The planners in Olympia took the “highway austerity” route of not building or expanding the highway network, charging fees for use, and restricting entrances and exits, failing to build enough East-West highways and overall doing a terrible job of highway network architecture and management.

    2. Sounds like need that could be filled by the private sector very efficiently. They could just have it paid for by tolls. No problem!

      Great idea John!

    3. This is bullshit, John. Freeways don’t prevent drivers from going at 50 on country roads (I should know, I live on one), and they don’t make it safe for pedestrians to cross city streets in traffic.

      We need either sidewalks — or woonerfs (streets designed for pedestrians, where cars can only travel at 10-15 mph and pedestrians have the right-of-way). The latter are not practical in most places, so we need sidewalks.

      1. I’m not even on a through route, mind you. It’s not the quantity of traffic, it’s the *behavior* of the traffic. I suppose we could reconstruct all our smaller roads as bumpy cobblestone chicanes to discourage fast traffic — do you like that idea, John?

  2. Freeway travel doesn’t really avoid the need for street travel. Every trip must involve some amount of street travel, unless your origin and destination each have their own private on-ramp and off-ramp to the freeway.

    What freeway travel does do is encourage people to live further apart from their daily activities so that the need for the freeway to cover all those miles seems essential.

    For example, getting to downtown from Queen Anne is about 2 miles on surface streets. Getting to downtown from Issaquah typically involves the same 2 miles of surface streets, plus an additional 15+ miles of freeway. The freeway miles are in addition to, not instead of, the miles traveled on surface streets.

    1. Unless someone is travelling between personal residences, most typically the person will start at a home, and end up at one or more public nodes along the way — workplace, retail, schools and so on. With proper planning getting cars off the streets, onto a highway, and then onto short jags or relatively restricted high traffic roads should minimize the time cars spend in neighborhood streets.

      My case in point is Kent-Kangley road, which, when looked at with Google traffic flow, can have more car density during the height of rush hour than parts of I-5!

      Surely there should have been a highway here going East-West all the way to Enumclaw even.

      1. That still doesn’t make the neighborhood streets safe to WALK in. John, you’re simply not solving the problem. To make the streets safe to walk in, you have to slow the traffic WAY down, to 20 mph or less (according to studies of death and injury risk from traffic accidents).

        Do you really think we can lower the speed on all local roads and city streets to 20 mph or less, even if we build a gazillion freeways? Really? Because if we can’t do that, we NEED SIDEWALKS.

  3. How about suggesting that we strip a bit of subsidization for wildly profitable oil companies, spend it on this bill?

    Oh, right– the oil companies will simply cease producing and go out of business without their subsidy. Any iota less incentive will cause them to wilt like a delicate rose dropped on hot asphalt. What was I thinking?

    Somehow the idea of diverting money from petroleum subsidization and into transportation improvements does not seem insane, even seems entirely logical and reasonable. In this climate “sane, logical and reasonable” is simply not politically feasible.

  4. Are freight railroads the only mode of transport that isn’t currently subsidized in the US?

    1. Hmm. Ships for freight are close, but they receive large amonuts of public money for ports. I think barge transport on the Mississippi is close to entirely privately funded. There are still the Army Corps of Engineers works on that, though. (And on smaller rivers and canals, those works are very extensive.)

      So, yeah, I think basically you’re right.

    2. Even walking and biking are subsidized (sidewalks, trails, bike lanes), but their subsidies are tiny by comparison to everything else.

      Elevators aren’t subsidized, I guess. :-)

      1. It would be interesting to see the subsidies for all modes based on passenger miles or freight ton miles. Walking and biking may not be tiny on these basis – particularly if the amount of lane a bike uses is calculated as a percentage of road miles.

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