Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BikeWalkLee's letter to Governor Crist: stop marginalizing Florida's cyclists and pedestrians

September 7, 2010

Dear Governor Crist:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, on August 18th urged you to distribute the recent congressional rescission of $112.6 million from Florida’s federal transportation funds proportionately. Therefore, we were very disappointed to see the decisions announced on August 23rd that, once again, took the bulk of the cuts from two programs, Transportation Enhancements (or TE, $24.7 million cut) and the Recreational Trails program (or RTP, $3 million cut) — two state programs that fund projects to make our roadways safer for Florida's walkers and cyclists.

While the federal legislation on this latest rescission exempted safety programs and local/regional road projects from the rescission, the remaining programs were not cut proportionately. An overall cut of 48.5% of unobligated balances was required. FDOT only cut 2% out of the unobligated balances in the road programs subject to the rescission, while 73% and 47% of unobligated balances were rescinded from TE and RTP respectively . More importantly, of the $2,319 million available for Florida federal transportation funds (FHWA), the rescissions resulted in a 5% reduction on the total funds available to Florida. However, TE and RTP programs lost 32%-36% of their funds--almost seven times their fair share. (See BikeWalkLee’s in-depth analysis of the rescission: )

To continue reading the letter, click here.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (Florida office) issued a press release today entitled "FDOT Slashes Funding for Walkers, Bicyclists and Trail Users; Spares Drivers; Ignores Needs and Safety." Click here to read the press release.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Posted this on their website:
Funny Money?
States Claim Walk/Bike Funds Aren't "Real"

Imagine that you were asked to plan a meeting and were given a budget with line items for food, drink, meeting space and supplies. Now, your boss tells you to cut back 10 percent of the total budget. You eliminate all drinks from the meeting to cover that 10 percent, instead of trimming from each category. When the thirsty guests ask for drinks, you tell them that you didn't actually "give up" any money for drinks from the meeting, because in fact you'd never had the funds to begin with (technically true, since the full amount was budgeted but not authorized). And further, no drinks were lost because they were never even ordered in the first place!
Click here to read the full article:

Below is the "form letter" response we received from the Governor's office:

From: Frye, Kira [mailto:Kira.Frye@LASPBS.STATE.FL.US]
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 9:19 AM
To: Undisclosed recipients:
Subject: From the Executive Office of the Governor

September 22, 2010
Dear Concerned Citizen:
Thank you for writing to Governor Charlie Crist to express your support for bicycle and pedestrian program funding. The Governor appreciates the opportunity to consider your views and has asked that I respond on his behalf.
The Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) works with all levels of government and impacted citizens like you to ensure that our roadways are safe and accessible to all users, which includes pedestrians and cyclists. The state and federal funding available to DOT is distributed with this goal in mind.

On August 13, 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation advised the state that all unobligated federal transportation funding allocated to the states is rescinded by Congress. The state was also directed to identify the categories of unobligated funds to be rescinded.

DOT has advised the Executive of the Governor that no bicycle, pedestrian, trail or enhancement projects will be eliminated as a result of the federal rescission. Florida’s Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways requires, with the exception of limited access highways that new roadways must be designed and constructed under the assumption that the roadway will be used by pedestrians, and bicycles where permitted. Bicycle paths and walkways are also encouraged when making improvements to existing roadways.

DOT is also working to enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety and mobility with help from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Partnership Council. This council makes recommendations to the department and its partners on design, planning, safety and other programs that ensure statewide improvements in safety and facilities integration. To monitor our progress in this important endeavor please visit:

Again, thank you for writing to Governor Crist. Your thoughts are very important to him.
Kira Frye
Executive Office of the Governor

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