The new federal transportation bill (MAP-21) recently passed by Congress and signed by the President has significantly cut funding for walking and bicycling. This will have a significant impact in Kansas City, just as our region is gaining tremendous momentum to improve walking, bicycling, and transit. Now more than ever we need your help to fight for funding to build more trails, improve sidewalks, build bike lanes, and provide kids with safer routes to school.
The Indian Creek Trail was possible thanks to the federal funding that has now been slashed.
Despite a valiant effort by our state and national partners, and by everyone who wrote and called your members of Congress, many of the traditional bike/ped funding sources have been reduced. And the news gets worse. KDOT and MoDOT will be allowed to divert bike/ped funds to highway projects.
Important local projects like the Heart of America Bridge over the Missouri River and new bike lanes on Southwest Boulevard/Merriam Lane would not have been possible without federal funding. Our regional communities simply don't have the resources to build these facilities with local funding. Proposed projects like expanding the new bike share system and connecting the Trolley Track and Indian Creek Trails will be difficult to achieve with reduced federal funding.
Many of BikeWalkKC's programs to educate pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists rely on federal funding. Programs like Bike Week, International Walk to School Day, and the Car Free Challenge will be cut, and we will have to work even harder to improve awareness and safety in Greater Kansas City.
The Good News
Our advocacy isn't federally funed - it's funded by our awesome members and donors, and supported by amazing volunteers. Now we need you more than ever. If you aren't a member, please click here to join now. If you are member, thank you! Please consider making an extra donation to help us adjust to the new fiscal realities.
Bike Share riders on the Heart of America Bridge (Photo by Jim Barcus, KC Star)
Now our attention must turn to our state capitals, where we must convince KDOT and MoDOT to protect the remaining bike/ped funds. Both states are already under enormous pressure to improve highways with declining funds. It will be very tempting to divert bike/ped money to highwy projects, and bike/ped advocates must be vigilant.
Here is what happened:
- Overall bike/ped funding was reduced from $1.2 billion per year to $800 million. Before the cuts, bike/ped was receiving 2% of the overal federal transportation budget.
- States can "opt out" of half the bike/ped and use it for other things, e.g. expanding highways.
- The remaining bike/ped funding has been opened up to other types of profects, meaning more competition from things like transportation museums, and highway expansions.
Our partners at America Bikes have all the details on the bill.
Local projects with federal funding
- Bike/ped paths on over the Missouri River on the Chouteau and Heart of America Bridges
- BikeWalkKC's monthly education and safety classes
- Indian Creek Trail
- Safe Routes to School
- Sidewalks on North Antioch
- Riverfront Heritage Trail
- Little Blue Trace Trail
- Mill Creek Streamway Trail
Planned projects that need federal funding
- Expansion of the Kansas City B-cycle bike share program
- Extension of bike lanes planned for Southwest Boulevard and Merriam Lane
- Completion of the Little Blue Trace Trail
- Extension of the Riverfront Heritage Trail
What you can about it
Now our attention turns from Congress to local City Halls and state capitals. We have to fight harder to protect the remaining bike/ped funding, and to explain the importance of investing local funds in improving bicycling and walking. Becoming a member of BikeWalkKC, or making an extra donation, will help us win that fight to make our communities safer and more livable.