Speak up for Bike Commuting!

Transportation for America let us know today that the U.S. Senate will be voting today (Mar 6th) at noon on the revised two-year transportation bill. This bill is not perfect, but it’s by far the best we’ve seen discussed this year.  Please contact your Senator in support of this version of the bill!

The bill contains three key amendments:
1) Cardin-Cochran – Allows local-level government to compete for grants for things such as bike-pedestrian improvements.  Projects such as Safe Routes to School would be eligible for this money.
2) Franken-Blunt – Allows states to use Highway Bridge Program funds to repair non-federal highway bridges.  Why do we care?  Many of these bridges are ones cyclists use – or could use if they were repaired.
3) Landrieu-Murray – Prevents municipalities from having their transportation funds taken away if the state doesn’t meet transportation goals.  This means bike-ped and other local projects won’t be hurt just because a state DOT didn’t fix enough bridges – and also allows better municipal planning because of increased funding certainty.

T4America has set up a contact page to help you contact your senator.  This is especially important if you have a Republican senator.  While several have helped craft the bill and the amendments listed above, there is likely to be pressure on others to vote against it (for a variety of reasons).  Your support could help turn the tide and get some key votes.  If this does not pass, the likelihood of anything but highway funds in the transportation bill gets a lot smaller, even as statistics show we’re driving less.

Let’s tell our Senators we want a bill that serves the future, not the past.


  1. Steve A March 6, 2012 5:05 am 

    Any post that tells me my support is especially needed if I have a Republican Senator makes me nervous, considering it was the Dem Boxer that put in the mandatory side path provision…

  2. Matt March 6, 2012 5:41 am 

    @ Steve A –

    In my experience, senators and representatives tend not to represent us well if they don’t understand our perspectives as cyclists – if we let them know then they’re a lot more willing to work with and advocate for us. I believe Sen. Boxer has heard quite a bit from cyclists since the sidepath fiasco…

    In the case of this bill, I think it’s less about the content (it was drafted by a bipartisan committee including some fairly conservative senators) and more about the partisan nature of politics right now. For some Republicans, passage of this would be a victory for (Democrat) Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid – and must therefore be avoided. That’s why we need to let our senators know of our support – they need to hear that we care more about the issues than we do about political games.

  3. Ghost Rider March 6, 2012 9:26 am 

    I was a little leery of the initial “calling out” of Republicans, so I am glad you explained it better. Thanks Matt!

  4. BluesCat March 6, 2012 9:48 am 

    Even though my two Senators, McCain and Kyl, are two of the most anti-bike and anti-pedestrian senators in Washington, I STILL sent them both the plea to get this going. Heck, you never know when gas is going to go high enough to make them have a revelation and realize we need to focus on OTHER forms of transportation.

  5. Matt March 6, 2012 1:27 pm 

    Thanks to everyone who’s contacted their senators today or in the past – the vote for cloture on the bill failed today
    (mostly on partisan lines), but it isn’t entirely dead. It will go through some more amendment-adding and wrangling and – hopefully – get voted on again.

    I have no idea how reasonable (or related to transportation) the amendments will be… I’ll do my best to keep track and report back!

  6. Graham March 6, 2012 1:29 pm 

    I don’t know, BluesCat, Senator Burr is pretty amazing when it comes to funding transportation, too! I guess we’ll have to wait and see, though!

  7. FlaRider March 7, 2012 10:58 am 

    One of my senators, Marco Rubio, doesn’t give a s**t about cycling. He votes against it every time.

    To make mattes worse, try extracting any information out of him — how he will handle upcoming votes, why he opposes cycling improvements to his state’s roads, etc. — and you get no response, or you get obtuse blah, blah, blah about … I dunno.

    I can’t figure out what he’s talking about in his last e-mail response to my message encouraging support for cycling improvements. Bear in mind, Rubio represents the state with the highest number of cycling deaths in the nation, far more than more populous California. Why this isn’t an issue for him is a mystery. Maybe the Tea Party could explain it to me and the rest of Florida’s cycling community.

    Florida’s other guy in the Senate, Bill Nelson, usually votes for cycling and other modern transportation policies, which means … they cancel each other out.

    Good for Nelson, but I can’t call this progress. More accurate term is frustration.

  8. Matt March 7, 2012 11:10 am 

    FlaRider –

    Yes, I’ve heard that about Rubio, and it is a shame… especially as he seems to be viewed as an up-and-comer in the GOP.

    I’ve experienced your frustration at the State level – Virginia keeps voting down the opportunity to extend our “2 foot passing” law to a “3 foot passing” law like many other states, and my representative keeps giving me lame soundbites for why he won’t support it. It’s not nearly as bad for cyclists here as it is in FLA though.

  9. Ghost Rider March 7, 2012 11:36 am 

    Rubio TERRIFYS me, and always has. I still have a hard time figuring out how he got elected (and don’t even get me started on Governor Voldemort).

    I am happy to leave Florida in my helmet-mounted rearview mirror, although legally I am still a resident there. I will continue to vote from afar and keep those two from regaining their positions if I can.

  10. Matt March 8, 2012 10:41 am 

    Update: T4A has an amendment tracker here.

  11. Matt March 15, 2012 9:30 am 

    And to bring this full circle, here’s the breakdown of how everyone voted:


    For those of you who had Senators vote “no” I’d encourage you to contact them, ask, “why not?” and express your disappointment.

    Florida voters – Feel free to let Rubio know how you feel, he was one of the no votes…

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