Navigating MAP-21: Early Victories from Coast to Coast
Just like the early bird gets the worm, the early organizer gets the victory. And that's been the case with the new federal transportation law, MAP-21.
MAP-21 goes into effect on October 1, but we're already seeing promising wins for bicycling across the nation. The new law means we have to mobilize and make our voices heard to ensure bicycle funding continues, and advocates have geared up campaigns that are making a huge difference.
The Recreational Trails program is a perfect example. Under the new bill, governors can opt-out of the program entirely -- simply shift those dollars from bike trails to other road uses. But advocacy groups, from Georgia Bikes to Bicycle Indiana, contacted their governors and state departments of transportation -- and, as of yesterday, more than 30 states had announced they will continue the program, rather than opt-out.
From Ohio to Idaho, those victories aren't just coming in the top bike-friendly states, either. This May, Morgantown became the first city to earn Bicycle Friendly Community status in all of West Virginia. Now, thanks to advocates like the Mon River Trail Conservancy, the state will continue to participate in the Rec Trails program -- and leverage $1.3 million in 2013 to build a more bicycle-friendly state.
That's not all. Under MAP-21, the Safe Routes to School program doesn't have dedicated funding anymore, meaning states aren't required to spend federal dollars on the staff or programs that are getting more kids walking and biking to school. But, thanks to advocates at the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire, the Granite State has committed to use left-over funding from the last transportation bill to put $2 million toward the program in 2013 and retain the state Safe Routes coordinator for at least another year.
Advocates in California secured a early victory that could be a game changer, too. Deb Hubsmith, executive director for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, helped to build a coalition of bike/ped organizations across California that created a detailed position paper on MAP-21. Two weeks later, the state released an initial proposal that fully funds the Transportation Alternatives program -- the most important pot for bike/ped projects -- and directs $21 million to Safe Routes to School. Even more important: Hubsmith will be one of two bike/ped advocates on a the state working group that will determine how MAP-21 is administered.
It all goes to show that, when bicyclists speak up, policymakers listen. When we get organized, we can win. As Hubsmith says, "Get going right away if you haven't already started -- and if you have started, keep the pressure on!"
Get involved by emailing your state contact to find out how you can plug in to the local campaign and get ready to put cycling all over MAP-21 in your state!