February 10, 2012
Dear Senators Nelson and Rubio,
BikeWalkLee is a citizen-based community coalition in Lee County, Florida, that works to raise public awareness and advocate for complete streets and a balanced multi-modal transportation system. We are writing to urge you to support the Cardin-Cochran amendment to give local elected officials and communities a voice in transportation decisions to build the sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways that keep people safe.
As written, the Senate’s transportation bill devolves federal funds to the state level, allowing state DOTs to opt-out of the walking and biking programs that have been popular and successful with local governments. The Cardin-Cochran Amendment works to further direct a small portion of those funds to local governments, whose leaders know the transportation needs of their constituents best.
Under MAP-21, funding programs for bicycling and walking are combined into one program called “Additional Activities” with an expanded list of eligible activities and a much smaller fund. The Cardin-Cochran Amendment adds access for local governments to the “Additional Activities” funds in CMAQ, without changing eligibility of projects or funding levels of the “Additional Activities.”
The Cardin-Cochran amendment does the following:
- Protects local control by ensuring that cities and counties have a voice in how states spend transportation dollars for safer streets.
- Fosters competition for safer streets by opening the “Additional Activities” fund to a grant program for local governments.
- Protects state flexibility. If no local governments apply for funding, funds revert to the state DOTs.
Walking and biking infrastructure is cheaper to construct, creates more jobs per dollar than any other kind of highway spending, and encourages healthy communities by giving people safe ways to get around on foot and by bicycle. Having safe places to walk and bike is particularly important for Florida because our state is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. We were encouraged by your support in December in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee mark-up for a provision that makes our streets safer for all users. (See attachment.)
Lee County elected officials, both at the Metropolitan Planning Organization and Board of County Commissioners, have shown strong support for a more balanced multi-modal transportation system and one that ensures that our roads are safe and accessible for all road users. Senate adoption of the Cardin-Cochran Amendment is critical to our local officials’ ability to provide the kind of transportation system needed and desired by the citizens of our community.
We urge you to support the Cardin-Cochran Amendment to give local governments an opportunity to make streets safer in Florida and across the country.
Thank you for standing up for us on these important issues.
Of behalf of
BikeWalkLee 12/21/11 News-Press commentary: “Senators Nelson, Rubio agree: All Floridians deserve safe roads”