As I mentioned in my previous wonky post, the League of American Bicyclists gave Wisconsin a D grade in infrastructure for their bicycle friendly state evaluation. Most states actually received an F, and all for the same reason: states are not spending the money the feds give them to build bicycle projects. That’s right, states are getting the money, but not spending it, or spending it on highways instead of bicycle projects through budgetary trickery. The League has decided to make an issue of this in the hopes of encouraging states to do the right thing and stop robbing the bike funds to build more highways.
From Jeff Peel, the Leagues’s State and Local Advocacy Coordinator, here is an explanation of their thinking and how they are working around the country to try to fix the problem:
The generally poor grade for infrastructure (very few states got anything better than a F) is disappointing to everyone, including us at the League. The bottom line is that states didn’t have high obligation rates for core bicycle funding programs such as Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes; they spent virtually nothing out of their STP, HSIP and CMAQ programs. Also, states sent a disproportionate percentage of TE and CMAQ funds back to Washington DC as part of the 2010 rescission. That’s not good enough, especially now. With cycling rates higher than ever and gas prices continuing to rise, states should be spending more, not less on bicycling. Despite shrinking transportation budgets, the cost-effectiveness and job creation record of bicycling projects means states can’t afford not to invest in bicycling.
The League is not content to just give states failing grades for poor spending records. Through our partnership with the Alliance for Biking and Walking, the Advocacy Advance program has released best practice reports on many under-utilized funding programs and will be conduction Action 2020 workshops throughout the country, training advocates, agency staff and elected leaders alike how to maximize the federal transportation dollars and the state, regional and local level. If you are interested in hosting one of these workshops, please visit AdvocacyAdvance.org for more information.