There is plenty of activity on the national and local blogosphere about the recent announcement by the US Senate’s Boxer-Inhofe EPW MAP 21 Transportation Draft Bill that was recently proposed. There are very alarming setbacks in this bill. Our national partner, America Bikes, has released a side-by-side analysis of the bill as it compares to the previous transportation bill.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and our national partners are working on a concerted response that builds on the collaboration we have already established. The BTA will release a formal call to action for our members as soon as we have the national strategy in our hands.
Right now, you can help by reading the materials and getting familiar with what is happening. Here’s a good primer from Transportation for America. If you have friends or family that live in states represented on the EPW Committee, prepare them to get active.
Oregon’s delegation in the Senate has been wonderful to work with and we anticipate that they will be receptive to our concerns about the bill’s changes. Unfortunately, not all of the members of the Senate are with us and the national strategy will look very different in different states. There may be specific pressure placed on Senators Boxer and Inhofe to open the bill to amendments that will support the Oregon delegation’s efforts to build a better transportation bill.
The BTA thanks Senator Jeff Merkley and his staff for being engaged early with our coalitions and so supportive of progressive transportation policy. You may receive multiple action alerts over the next few days and weeks from national partners with differently crafted messages that cast a wide net. Our messages to the Oregon delegation may seem softer and conciliatory in nature and that is generally because our delegation needs support to keep up their spirits in today’s political climate. We are fortunate to have a slate of legislators who historically have fought the battle to create a balanced transportation system with clear performance measures.
Finally, this bill is very important. The funds from a national transportation bill provide the resources locally to municipalities to build bicycle and pedestrian facilities, to fund creative social marketing programs, and to increase the overall safety on our roads. With or without this bill, we will be facing tough decisions ahead on transportation priorities. A good national bill will help set the framework for Oregon’s future. A balanced transportation policy in Oregon will help set the tone nationally for modeling a great national transportation bill.