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May 21, 2020

Prioritizing Bikes in Post-Pandemic Policies in Washington, D.C.

By: PeopleForBikes Staff

Bike commuter going by a lake
Bike commuter going by a lake

Regulations and policies for essential business and other activities are changing rapidly county-by-county, state-by-state and at the federal level. PeopleForBikes is continuing to advocate for bikes nationally and pulling together resources to offer you, your business and your bike riding some much-needed direction in these confusing and difficult times. Communities across the nation are seeing an increase in bike ridership and local officials are responding with increasing the number of slow and closed streets as car traffic wanes. We’re all seeing firsthand how bikes are providing an essential form of transportation and a healthy outlet during these times, and we’re working to continue that trend.

PeopleForBikes’ ultimate policy goals haven’t changed, but they are evolving. We see this moment as an opportunity to make every bike ride even better by recognizing the role bikes can play in our nation’s recovery from COVID-19. 

In the near term, we’re continuing to work on our existing infrastructure priorities in Washington, D.C. and pushing for increased funding to Small Business Administration resources like the Paycheck Protection Program. Longer term, we will capitalize on growing the momentum behind bike riding and the need to fund critical bike network construction as part of a national recovery package. Read below to learn more about the work we’re doing towards improving bicycling for all Americans and prioritizing safe infrastructure for the increasing number of people finding joy on two wheels. 

Promote Access to Stimulus Funding for Bikes: Any economic stimulus package passed by Congress should include additional funding for bike infrastructure that is proportional to any funding made available for other transportation programs. PeopleForBikes advocates for a robust stimulus bill that helps communities meet the growing demand for better bicycle infrastructure and adds funding to critical small business relief programs established in the CARES Act.

Increase Funding for Bicycle Infrastructure to Meet Growing Demand: The pandemic has highlighted the growing demand for bicycles across our antiquated transportation networks. PeopleForBikes requests an immediate 40% increase in funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and potential regulatory changes that will make the funds more accessible and usable by communities.

Establish a New Program to Develop Connected Bike Infrastructure Throughout the Nation: While trails, paths and bike lanes exist in many communities, they are not always well connected, which reduces the ability of residents who don’t own motor vehicles to safely reach their destinations. As more Americans begin to rely on bicycling to get from point A to point B, our goal is to link these trails into full and complete networks. PeopleForBikes supports Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act (H.R. 5696/S. 3391), which would provide a multi-billion dollar investment in networks through a new competitive grant program to connect trails and multi-use paths to provide safe and accessible options for biking and walking.

Prioritize Investments that Open Streets to Biking and Walking: Many cities have responded to a shift in transportation trends and demands during the pandemic by repurposing roads for biking and walking, thereby creating safe and socially distant ways to move throughout communities for both transportation and recreation. As these trends continue, PeopleForBikes supports infrastructure funding to prioritize projects that open roads, increasing access for active transportation modes. 

Protect Our States and Cities During Financial Crisis to Prevent Budget Shortfalls: State and local governments face massive financial pressures during the pandemic, which could limit their ability to deliver on comprehensive bicycle network plans. PeopleForBikes supports an additional $500 billion in funding for states to relieve budget pressures and for the implementation of provisions that would create needed flexibility in existing federal programs, including the removal of local match requirements.  

Become a Core Solution to Climate Change: Reduction of emissions during COVID-19 has brought climate change policy in-focus. As a solution to emissions reduction, bicycles should be eligible for funding through all programs seeking to reduce carbon emissions. PeopleForBikes supports eligibility for bikes through all carbon reduction programs in a stimulus bill and reauthorization of the transportation bill. 

 Invest in Recreational Trails: Bike riding is a safe and socially distant form of recreation and a growing demand going forward warrants more investment in recreational trails. PeopleForBikes requests additional funding for the Recreational Trails Program, which would provide an immediate boost to local economies and build more multi-use trails to meet demand, in addition to a revenue assessment to highlight potential resource shortfalls. 

Incentivize Bicycle Commuting: As parts of the economy begin to reopen and more Americans head back into a work environment, bike riding should be incentivized. Bike riding makes it easy to commute while social distancing and avoiding traffic, and ensures that the record low levels of air pollution and smog do not immediately spike once people resume travel fueled by carbon emissions. PeopleForBikes has been a strong advocate for the Bicycle Commuter Act (H.R. 1507), which would provide a $53 per month bicycle commuter benefit, to be used in harmony with parking and transit benefits and account for the use of low-speed electric bicycles and bike share systems.

To read more content like this in 2020, join PeopleForBikes — it’s free!

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