On Friday, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee introduced the INVEST in America Act, their version of the surface transportation bill. It looks great for bicycling and walking. Similar to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) bill released last week, it includes programs and policies that promote bicycling and walking through significantly increased funding for active transportation infrastructure. Specific to Safe Routes to School, the bill re-codifies the program into current law, expands it to high schools, encourages states to fund Safe Routes out of their core transportation funds, and requires full-time state SRTS coordinators. (UPDATE: The House bill passed the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday, June 9, 2021).
While the Senate EPW bill won support from Republicans on the committee, this House bill is not bipartisan. The Democrats have a three vote majority in the House of Representatives, so getting the bill through the House could be as tricky as getting the bipartisan EPW bill through the Senate with 10 Republican votes!
As a way to increase the House bill’s chances, Chairman DeFazio included Member Designated Projects (earmarks) for both Democratic and Republican members, and included many of the bipartisan amendments added to the bill of the same name last year with the hope of getting bipartisan support. However, the bill’s emphasis on climate, and the sheer size of the bill ($547 billion over five years) were too much for Republican leadership to support. That will put the House bill at a disadvantage if the bills get to the conference committee where Democrats and Republicans of both the House and Senate work together to come up with a consensus bill.
Along with addressing climate change, the bill strives to add a new emphasis on environmental justice and transportation equity. It requires such considerations in both state and metropolitan planning programs, and adds consideration of effects to environmental justice and transportation equity to most grant programs, including things like new highways and freight route changes which cause air and noise pollution, as well as community disconnection disproportionately impacting low income communities.
In addition, in partnership with the Transportation Equity Caucus, the League of American Bicyclist was successful in getting changes to the 1906 program by promoting changes to the 402/405 programs in the bill that fund enforcement programs. While the League of American Bicyclists were unsuccessful in changing those programs, they were successful in getting changes to the 1906 program, which funds states to collect and analyze data on traffic stops and citations of drivers for racial and ethnic disparities. Now, the bill would enable the program to fund utilizing the data and working with the community and law enforcement to change policies and practices.
The House bill also includes some of the larger systemic changes that the League of American Bicyclists has been calling for, like a fix-it-first policy on highway construction, and new accessibility performance measures which are not in the Senate EPW bill. Please see the chart below for more details.
Current law (FAST Act)
Bike League/Safe Routes ask
Capped at $850 million
Increase to 10% of STP (so that funding grows each year)
Large MPOs depend on state to implement project,
Small MPOs ineligible
Large MPOs can implement projects; small MPOs eligible
State flexibility to help local governments
States can help with local match and technical assistance
Priority for high need communities
States and MPOs must prioritize high need areas in project selection
Vulnerable road user (VRU) safety
States spend 1-2% on bike/ped safety
States with high levels of fatalities must invest in VRU safety
VRU safety assessments
Require of all states
Required for states with high fatalities
FHWA required to do national assessment
Integrate safe streets into safety program
Integrate into program throughout
Included in VRU assessment,
MUTCD reform on guidance setting speed limit
Safe Routes to School
Expand to high school
Not allowed in safety program
All both SRTS infrastructure and programming in safety program
Full time state Coordinators
Complete Streets and Accessibility
Standards and guidance
Detailed standards and guidance
State level grant program
Funding to retrofit existing streets with Complete Streets projects
Data program and performance measures
Walkway selection guide
Pedestrian guide to match bikeway selection guide
Connecting America’s Active Transportation
$500m/yr for grant program
$250m/yr for 4 years
Equity safeguards in enforcement programs (with Transportation Equity Caucus)
1906 Program (racial profiling)
Fund data collection and analysis
Include funding for policy/practices change
include stops of ppl biking, walking,etc.
402/405 programs that fund enforcement
Require states have policy against racial profiling
New performance measures
New performance measure
No regressive safety goals
Safety goals, but increased fatalities an acceptable goal
Disallow regressive performance measures