Three Bills Aim to Boost Cycling Nationwide

Bills would lead to safer streets, more cycling infrastructure, say advocates

Remember that “all-powerful bike lobby” that had one Citi Bike critic clutching her pearls last year? Well, those dastardly lobbyists are at it again, and this time they want blood—er, more bike lanes.

The League of American Bicyclists is holding its annual National Bike Summit on Capitol Hill this week, bringing together over 700 cycling advocates for forums, speeches and some old-fashioned politicking.

On the agenda are three bills that the League is pushing for in Congress to make cycling safer and more accessible:

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (H.R. 3494 and S. 1708)
This bill, or rather these bills—there are versions in both the House and Senate—address a key concern among cyclists and pedestrians: roads are dangerous, especially if you’re not in a vehicle. While overall traffic deaths have been on the decline since their recent high in 2005 (there was a slight uptick in 2012), the share of those deaths belonging to cyclists and pedestrians has been increasing steadily, from 13 percent in 2007 to over 16 percent in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This act aims to fix that problem by inserting a single phrase in the current federal transportation law. It would require that states account for serious injuries and fatalities “for both motorized and nonmotorized transportation.” This small change could lead to additional safety regulations to protect cyclists and pedestrians on all federally funded road projects.

The Safe Streets Act (H.R. 2468 and S. 2004)
This act would require that all new road construction abide by the “complete streets” principle. What’s a “complete street,” you ask? It’s a roadway that is designed and built with “all travelers” in mind, not just motor vehicles. This means every new road that gets built using federal funds must account for the presence of cyclists and pedestrians, where applicable, or else receive a prior exemption. That could mean significantly more bike lanes and rights of way.

The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (H.R. 3978)
It’s no secret that cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is weaker in low-income communities. And yet these are the communities that could benefit most from access to cheaper transportation in the form of walking and bike commuting.

The bill would set aside $11 million from an existing federal program to fund low-interest loans to develop biking and walking networks. A quarter of that money must be used in low-income communities.

Want to support these bills? The League put together this handy guide for tweeting at your representatives.