Campaign Update: Pennsylvania Moves Towards Dedicated Biking & Walking Funding
Apr 19, 2013
Thanks to great grassroots advocacy, Pennsylvania just got a little closer to recognizing walking and biking as truly integral components of the state’s transportation system.
Republican state senator John Rafferty, chair of the Senate transportation committee, introduced a bill this week that would create dedicated funding for walking and biking paths in the state. He also plans to propose a Complete Streets policy — a bill stipulating that transportation planners consider people traveling by bike, on foot, and by transit in addition to by car.
The new Pennsylvania funding measure could support rail trails like this one. Image: Richard Masoner/Flickr
The dedicated funding provision will be attached to a larger statewide transportation funding measure and would raise $2.5 billion for transportation in the state annually by drawing on wholesale fuel taxes.
This is Pennsylvania’s first commitment to designate specific transportation dollars for active transportation — and it will have a huge impact on walkability and bikeability in neighborhood streets. Governor Tom Corbett’s transportation secretary Barry Schoch acknowledged that the state’s engineers and planners routinely try to incorporate bike and walk infrastructure into construction projects, but often lack funding to do so. With dedicated funding, cities and towns will have clear budget sources for active transportation projects.
The passage of this bill would be big news for Pennsylvania advocates, who have been steadily working on a statewide campaign to fund walking and biking under a new transportation budget. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia received a Rapid Response Grant from Advocacy Advance to work with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition to educate legislators across the state.
Advocates’ success in Pennsylvania speaks to the power of uniting new partners — including local chambers of commerce, health groups and transit groups — around building healthier, more economically vibrant neighborhoods. In addition to working with other biking and walking group sin the state, the Bicycle Coalition’s partners new include state representatives of the American Heart Association and Mission: Readiness, an organization of retired military officials who support policies to boost physical activity among youth.
“We are extremely pleased that biking and walking is included in this comprehensive transportation bill,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the BCGP and board member of Pennsylvania Walks and Bikes and Tuesday’s press conference. “This is a great chance to make Pennsylvania’s streets safer for the increasing number of Pennsylvanians who are walking and biking to work, school and for exercise.”