Today, nearly 100 organizations—including Tri-State, Parks & Trails New York, and New York Bicycling Coalition—sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to commit 100% of New York State’s biking and walking funds for their intended purpose: making our state safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Under MAP-21, the new federal transportation law that takes effect today, states can shift up to 50% of this “Transportation Alternatives” money from non-cyclist and pedestrian projects like sidewalks and bike lanes to projects that create more dangerous cycling and pedestrian environments like building wider roadways.
In the letter, the groups said that, as Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Transportation work to implement the new law, the state should:
- Use 100% of the federal Transportation Alternatives program for bike and pedestrian projects—not transfer any money out of the program.
- Give communities the opportunity to apply for $30 million in unspent bike/pedestrian funds from the last transportation law, which otherwise must be returned to Washington.
“High rates of pedestrian and bicycle injuries and fatalities indicate that all available funds must be used by state and local officials to reduce these numbers,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool in a release. “Our Most Dangerous Roads Report found that more than 1,200 pedestrians were killed in the downstate region from 2008 to 2010—that’s 1,200 reasons to use every available dollar to make our roads safer for all users.”
Last month, New York State (along with New Jersey and Connecticut) agreed to keep recreational trails funding whole, instead of moving it into a pot of money that is vulnerable to raids for automobile-focused projects. With a 30% reduction in overall bicycle and pedestrian funding in MAP-21, New York State can’t afford to put its cyclists and pedestrians at risk by diverting any of these crucial safety funds.
You can see a full list of signatories and read the press release here.