It can be daunting to keep up with all the different legislation considered in Washington. The president and Congress have already proposed, debated, and, in some cases, passed significant bills that have or will change the way Americans live and work.
Some of these bills are passed relatively quickly, while others can take years to garner the votes needed to become law. One bill that is worth a closer look is the INVEST Act. This multi-billion dollar bill has been before Congress for some time now and has many implications for America’s infrastructure. In addition to addressing roads, bridges, and other infrastructure issues, the current state of the bill has much to say about pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Here are a few of the INVEST Act’s key points and what they mean cyclists and walkers.
Safety is a Priority
One of the most important things about the bill is its commitment to safety. The INVEST Act would require states with certain levels of pedestrian and bicycle traffic to set aside funds for their safety.
The good news is that the dedicated funding to bicycle and pedestrian safety represents a large increase over current funding levels.
The Bill Emphasizes Local Control
The bulk of the multi-billion dollar bill would be used to update federal infrastructures, such as highways and bridges. However, a respectable $49 billion would be set aside for local governments to use on local infrastructure projects. The bill does not require municipalities to use the funds for bike or pedestrian-related projects, but many state and local governments may choose to do so.
Projects could include dedicated bike lanes, increased signage, crosswalks, pedestrian and bike traffic signals, and more. This money would have the added benefit of promoting state and local partnerships as each has an interest in promoting pedestrian and bicycle safety for their residents.
The INVEST Act also sets aside money for single-year grants to be used for street planning and the building and implementation of bike networks. Cities can apply for these grants and use them to improve the safety and layout of their existing bike routes.
Studies have shown that expansive and safe bike networks make biking safer. But they also are a valuable community asset. Bike networks can help keep residents healthier, increase housing prices, and even help attract better talent to major companies located in the city.
It will take time to measure the entire impact the INVEST Act might have on American bike and pedestrian safety. Dedicated funding is sure to motivate state and local governments to prioritize these issues.
Finally, the INVEST Act sets aside considerable funds for research. While research funding might not be as exciting as funding designed to make immediate infrastructure changes, it can pay off in the long run. The more federal, state, and local leaders know about the benefits of robust bike networks, the more likely those jurisdictions will be to build and improve their bike networks.
Stay tuned for updates on the INVEST Act and what happens with it in the coming days, weeks, and months.