One of the biggest challenges to making communities more walkable and bikeable is that there’s often only enough funding to build one stretch of pathways or sidewalks at a time—meaning that there aren’t complete networks from homes to schools, workplaces or other destinations.
A new bill from Reps. Sires (D-NJ), Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Carson (D-IN), and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) looks to change that. The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (HR 3978) would allow communities to access low-cost loans to build bicycling and walking networks. This means a city could get a loan now and build a network of sidewalks, bike lanes and paths to improve safety and increase physical activity—and repay the loan over many years.
The bill sets aside $11 million from the existing $1 billion TIFIA loan program to test out this new financing program for bicycling and walking, so it doesn’t cost any extra money. Another innovative aspect of the bill is that 25 percent of any loaned funds must be spent in low-income communities. So, a city could borrow funds to make the downtown more walkable and bikeable—which is likely to increase revenues and the tax base—while also addressing safety concerns on the trip to school in low-income neighborhoods.
Help make sure your mayor and policymakers have access to a new way to finance safe streets for everyone—ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3978 today!