CalBike breaks down impact of infrastructure bill on California cyclists
Now that President Biden has signed the long-contested $ 2 million infrastructure investment program, people are taking it apart to understand its shortcomings – and its benefits.
The California Bicycle Coalition has taken a close look at the bill’s potential benefits for cyclists in California and has found some good things. Of the total $ 1.2 trillion bill, $ 645 billion is for transportation nationwide. As has been pointed out elsewhere, a lot of that will go to roads and highways, but there is $ 39 billion for transit and rail.
In addition, there will be a much needed and requested increase of approximately sixty percent in funding for the Active Transportation Program, the primary source of funding for cycling and walking facilities in California. The state received about $ 89 million per year from the federal government, which helps bring its total budget to about $ 220 million. This bill is expected to increase the federal portion by an additional $ 53.4 million, for a total of approximately $ 270 million.
This, however, is a far cry from the $ 2 billion the California Transportation Commission is asking for in order to fund more high-scoring projects that apply ATP funding.
Although the bill requires transportation planners to consider the needs of all road users, this type of complete streets policy already exists in California. Caltrans’ policy is not perfect – it contains wiggle room to get by and will require the attention of advocates to ensure it is effectively enforced in projects, but at least these rules have been around for a few years. years. This change in the federal bill will primarily benefit other states.
There are other potential funding in the federal bill, including the Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act. This bill was passed by Congress in 2020 to “build safe and connected options for bikes and walkers within and between communities”. The new infrastructure bill includes $ 200 million in competitive grants to build part of it. California is probably in a good position to compete for some of these projects, but the total, for the country as a whole, does not add up to many projects.
Another pilot program, Reconnecting Communities, will receive approximately $ 1 billion. It’s a big change – the program
Seeks ways to provide reparations for the damage caused by the legacy of highway construction that has destroyed neighborhoods and displaced low-income Black and Colored communities. But, writes CalBike: “As Smart Growth America has pointed out, the $ 1 billion investment in highway repairs is eclipsed by the $ 300 billion bill for new highway construction.
Another positive development is the evolution of automotive safety standards, which for years have focused on car occupants. Not everything in the bill is great – for example, it calls for developing portable beacons for cyclists and pedestrians so autonomous vehicles know where they are. This is at least consistent with the prevailing notions which place the burden of safe driving behavior on people who walk and cycle.
But the bill includes some positive changes, including a requirement that all new cars incorporate technology to prevent drunk driving and better headlight standards. It also calls for new standards on crash tests, requiring them to also assess the dangers to people struck by cars, and not just car occupants. Automakers use these tests to assess the safety of their vehicles for potential buyers, so these rules will not prevent manufacturers from making and selling dangerous vehicles. But at least they need to test and report these potential security issues, which they don’t have to do now.
It will take public pressure to stop the sales of dangerous cars, but at least now the public can be armed with data. CalBike notes, “As advocates of cycling, we have learned to celebrate progressive progress and strive for more. “
The fight goes on.