ASLA supports legislation that will assist with the creation and rehabilitation of safe bicycle and pedestrian networks throughout communities of all types across America.
Background & Analysis
On January 30, 2014, Representative Albio Sires (NJ) introduced H.R. 3978, the New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (New Opportunities) of 2014. The bipartisan piece of legislation would provide communities with low-cost financing for projects in order to make streets and sidewalks more accessible for all pedestrians and bicyclists. The measure would also direct a portion of the funding to establish projects in low-income communities.
Specifically, the legislation would call for 1%, approximately $11 million, of the $1 billion in the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program funds, provided by the Moving Ahead Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), to be set aside and designated for biking and walking network projects. Under the TIFIA loan program, eligibility is based on projects with a total cost of at least $50 million. This piece of legislation would require a $2 million minimum for projects, opposed to the $50 million minimum required by a normal TIFIA-funded project.
The New Opportunities bill also addresses biking and walking infrastructure networks in all communities by earmarking 25% of the funding for projects in low-income communities. A recent study has shown that individuals earning less than $30,000 per year account for 28% of the trips made by bicycle in 2009, more than $1.1 billion overall. Nationally, families with an income under $50,000 spend 30% of that income on transportation costs (bus, fuel, rail, etc). By using funds specifically for low-income communities, Sires' bill will ultimately reduce transportation costs and provide greater job access for low-income households and residents.
Lastly, the bill will serve to provide practical transportation solutions that are high impact, yet low cost. Since New Opportunities uses existing funds, it will have no fiscal impact on the federal budget or the upcoming surface transportation bill. Like TIFIA financed projects, New Opportunities projects would permit lawmakers at the state and local level to use federal dollars to leverage private funds to finance transportation infrastructure projects.
Representative Albio Sires (NJ) and cosponsors
The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (H.R. 3978) was introduced on January 30, 2014, and was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
This legislation was modeled after the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program. TIFIA has proven to be a success, showing that each dollar of federal funding can create up to $10 in credit assistance, which can be used to leverage up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Representative Sires has attributed his heightened awareness of bicycling and walking infrastructure needs by the report, The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity, jointly released by the League of American Bicyclists and the Sierra Club.
Related ASLA Policies
- Transportation Corridors & Facilities
- Livable Communities
- Urban Growth and Development
- Universal Design