Dear Campaign Advocate,
When it rains, it pours! We have several updates and notices for you that pertain to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC) Campaign for Active Transportation.
- Federal Transportation Bill Timeline
- Marker bill for Active Transportation Investment Fund
- "Show Senate" Events
- Active transportation opportunities in climate bill
- "Dangerous by Design" Report
1. Federal Transportation Bill Timeline
With just hours to go before the expiration of the federal transportation bill SAFETEA-LU, on Sept. 30, 2009, the U.S. Congress passed a 30-day continuation of transportation funding. This short-term extension bought time for decision-makers to try to agree upon a longer-term extension. Then, in late October, nearing the end of the above 30-day extension, Congress again passed a continuing resolution through mid-December.
While predictions are rampant on the bill’s final timeline, there are two primary scenarios in play. One possibility is that Congress will pursue a one- or two-year reauthorization bill that would be framed as another job creation bill. Another possibility is a series of short- and medium-term extensions that further delay reauthorization—perhaps even until after the congressional mid-term elections.
RTC is working to insert active transportation into any and all federal transportation legislation. As always, this requires a nimble, responsive approach as new opportunities emerge, even as progress on the transportation bill takes place in the coming months. We thank you for your past and upcoming willingness to respond quickly when needed.
2. Marker bill for Active Transportation Investment Fund
To meet the goals of the Campaign for Active Transportation, RTC has been in close discussions with several congressional offices about the introduction of marker bills* in both the House and Senate to fund a competitive grant program. While details are not yet finalized or publicly available, this represents a crucial campaign step. Once these details emerge, we will shift into high gear on a co-sponsor drive to ensure adequate support for the bill. Please stay tuned.
3. "Show Senate" Events
As mentioned in a campaign message from this past July, with the passage of a draft transportation reauthorization that did not include an Active Transportation Investment Fund (read RTC’s full bill analysis), RTC shifted our primary strategy to focus on ensuring the inclusion of such a program in the Senate bill. Specifically, we encouraged communities to hold "Show Senate" events to demonstrate to your senators the need and potential for focused investments to improve opportunities for more trails, walking and bicycling in your community.
It’s not too late to host an event! "Show Senate" events hold great potential to not only shore up support for the campaign effort, but also to strengthen your relationship with your senators’ offices. Consider locations of high import to your community (think about media opportunities for transformational projects from your senator’s perspective), and where the need is greatest to complete linkages in the system. For more, please contact RTC; we are always willing to discuss strategy with you to maximize the impact of your outreach efforts.
4. Active transportation opportunities in climate bill
First introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Carper (D-Del.) in March 2009, S. 575 , the "Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Equity Act" (CLEAN-TEA), would create a Low Greenhouse Gas Transportation Fund, allocating 10 percent of revenue from any climate bill to clean transportation modes such as walking and bicycling.
On Oct. 6, RTC sent an action alert to our online supporters encouraging readers to ask their senators to co-sponsor CLEAN-TEA. Thousands acted, and in response, the Senate improved upon the level of funding to clean transportation from up to one percent in the House bill to about two and a half percent. The current list of co-sponsors includes Sens. Bennett (Colo.), Cardin (Md.), Gillibrand (N.Y.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Merkley (Ore.), Nelson (Fla.) and Specter (Pa.).
If your senator is not listed above, please contact him or her now in support of CLEAN-TEA. If you see other opportunities to positively impact your senator’s response to this co-sponsorship drive, feel free to reach out to RTC for assistance.
5. "Dangerous by Design" Report
On Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, our partners at Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership released a report calling attention to unsafe roadway conditions for pedestrians. "Dangerous by Design"
lists the 52 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians, nationally.
The report also includes federal spending data, case studies, rankings
within states and policy recommendations.
Many communities participating in RTC’s Campaign for Active Transportation are included in this list of 52 most dangerous areas.
If your community is included in this ranking, please consider how best
to utilize this placement to generate attention toward the need for
safer places for residents to walk and bike. This may entail
coordinating a statewide action alert drive to decision-makers if
multiple communities in your state are listed. Conversely, a more
focused communication to local leaders could be more appropriate.
Thank you for your continued support. We hope you are as excited as we are about these many promising opportunities to advance the active transportation agenda.
* A marker bill is one that "marks" the position of several legislators on a particular issue with the intention that the marker bill's content will eventually be incorporated into the final version.