Senate Passes MAP-21 Bill, Includes Safe Routes Provisions
March 14, 2012: Today the Senate passed the MAP-21 transportation bill, including provisions to ensure that local governments can compete for Safe Routes to School funding, by a vote of 74-22. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership applauds the Senate for their bipartisan action on the transportation reauthorization and urges the House to move quickly to take up the bipartisan MAP-21 bill.
The final MAP-21 bill contains a number of improvements over the original bill that was first released back in November 2011. These improvements are due to the leadership of several Senators, and from advocates who pushed their Senators to support these improvements. We thank our many partners and supporters who helped secure these significant changes to benefit Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking.
- Requires state Departments of Transportation to suballocate and competitively award the Additional Activities funding. In the original MAP-21 bill, Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails were all consolidated into the Additional Activities program. Also eligible for Additional Activities funding are road and environmental mitigation projects. In the original language, state DOTs had full control over how to use the funding, likely resulting in little to no funding for bicycling and walking.
Under the revisions included in the final bill, local governments, school systems and metropolitan planning organizations will be able to access much-needed funding to make walking and bicycling safe and accessible. We believe that moving more decision-making to the regional and local level will help ensure that Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking projects are funded through Additional Activities. [Amendment proposed by Sens. Cardin (D-MD and Cochran (R-MS)]. Specifically:
- The state DOT must obligate half of the Additional Activities funding, based on population, to metropolitan planning organizations and smaller areas. Metropolitan planning organizations must hold a competitive process to identify projects to fund with their suballocated funding.
- The state DOT must hold a competitive process for the remaining half of their Additional Activities funding. Local governments, school districts, and other local agencies are eligible to compete.
- Requires the US Secretary of Transportation to create standards to ensure that all users—including bicyclists and pedestrians—are safely accommodated in all phases of design and operation of all federally-funded transportation projects. States can get a waiver if they already have state standards in place. This is a big step forward for Complete Streets. [Amendment proposed by Sen. Begich (D-AK)]
- Requires states, unless they opt out, to spend on recreational trails projects at least what they received in 2009 for the Recreational Trails program. This funding is part of the Additional Activities program. [Amendment proposed by Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN)]
- Adds further restrictions on the “mandatory sidepath clause” that would make roads on federal lands off-limits for cyclists when an adjacent paved path is nearby. Now, this restriction only applies to roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or greater where the bicycle level of service is rated B or higher. [Amendment proposed by Sens. Merkley (D-OR) and Franken (D-MN)]
- Requires the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian representatives in several transportation planning processes, including Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs), State Transportatin Improvement Programs (STIPs) and the State Strategic Highway Safety Plan. [Amendment proposed by Sen. Udall (D-NM)]