The “best bicycle bill in history”?

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(Updated July 30, 2005: See “Money for Cycling in Transportation bill passed by Congress.”)

Bicyclists could benefit when Congress rolls out the pork barrel this year.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), also known as the highway bill, carries a price tag of $284 billion for roads and public transit.

More importantly for cyclists, it carries 158 bicycle and pedestrian projects, valued at about $242 million. There's also a $875-million safe-routes-to-school program that would encourage children to bike or walk to school.

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer tells Associated Press: “This is probably going to be the best bicycle bill in history.”

The Oregon Democrat is head of the congressional bike caucus. The Cycling Dude introduced me to the existence of the caucus the other day. Check out these blogs for The Cycling Dude's  reporting on the congressional bike caucus and background on Blumenauer's role in it.

The highway bill, passed by the House and on its way to debate in the Senate, is available for perusal at the US Department of Transportation website. The current version of TEA-21 can be downloaded here.

The safe-routes-to-school program seeks to make walking and cycling to school safer and more enjoyable, to foster a healthy lifestyle at an early age. It calls for bicycle crossing improvements, on- and off-street bike paths, secure bike parking and public awareness programs. Each state participating must have a full-time coordinator.

The bill also requires that 4 communities be chosen for a “non-motorized transportation pilot program” featuring the construction of sidewalks, bike lanes and trails to demonstrate how people can get around without cars. It also calls for making a $500,000 grant to a national, not-for-profit organization (not named) to operate a clearinghouse for bicycle and pedestrian issues.

Looking through the bill, I found the bicycle and pedestrian projects that would be funded by TEA-21. This is by no means the entire list, just a representative example that interested me:

San Diego River bike path — $500,000
Improve bicycle sidewalks, Miramar, Fla., — $600,000
Wading River bicycle project, Riverhead, NY — $1.2 million
Buy rights of way for bike path, Aurora, Ohio — $500,000
Central Iowa Bike Trail, Ankeny to Woodward, Iowa — $1 million
Bike boardwalks at Pismo Beach, Calif. — $300,000
Rahway River Corridor Greenway bike path, NJ — $1.5 million
Bike path, Petal, Miss. — $200,000
Citywide bike path network, Evanston, Ind. — $250,000
Bike trail, Smyrna, Tenn. — $3 million
Regional bike routes on highways in Austin, Texas — $1 million
Bike trail, Cookeville, Tenn. — $2.5 million
Upgrade bike corridors, Solano County, Calif. — $3 million
Bike path, Portage, Wisc. — $2.2 million
Route 11 extension and bike path from Salem to Waterford, Conn. — $16 million
Bike bridge between San Leandro and Oakland, Calif. — $750,000
12 miles of Palmetto Trail Project, S.C. — $1 million
Bike Trail at I-95 interchange, Lake County, Ohio — $2.5 million
Bike trail, Gallatin, Tenn. — $665,000
East Coast Greenway bike path, New Brunswick to Hudson River, N.J. — $1 million
Bicycle bridge, Stillwater River, Maine — $1 million
Reconstruct Neal Smith Trail, Iowa — $3.5 million
Six-mile bike path, Mahoning County, Ohio — $500,000
Bike overpass, Phoenix — $3 million
Bike trail network, eastern Austin, Texas — $9.6 million
Bike path, Madison, Wisc. — $3.5 million
Bike path, Wisconsin Dells — $2 million
Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Ithaca, N.Y. — $1.2 million
Bike trail, Murfreesboro, Tenn. — $9 million
Bike path, ferry landing, Brooklyn — $10 million
Bike and transit facilities, Rockwood, Ore. — $3 million
Bike bridge, Wayne, Ill. — $1.2 million
Historic bike path, Pascagoula, Miss. — $150,000
Scenic bicycle path, Niagara County, NY — $2.3 million
Penobscot Riverfront Development, Maine — $2 million
Bike trails, North Delaware riverfront, Penn. — $10 million
Waunakee to Westport bike path, Wisc. — $2 million
Bike path and bike bridges, Madison, Wisc. — $2 million
Bike path, Chula Vista, Calif. — $300,000
Bike path, New River, Calexico, Calif. — $5 million
Acquire rail corridors for bike paths, Durham, N.C. — $2 million
Extend bike trails, Aberdeen, N.D. — $800,000
Bike improvements in Georgetown and Middletown, Ill. — $6 million.

As you can see, there's a lot in the bill for bicyclists. Let's see  if the Senate lets this through intact.

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