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The Bicycling Community Is Becoming a Political Force to Be Reckoned With

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page.

For the past year powerful voices around Washington have singled out programs to improve biking and walking as flagrant examples of wasteful government spending.

Since last summer, proposals have flown around the Capitol to strip away all designated transportation funds for biking and walking-even though biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trip across America but receive only 1.6 percent of federal funding.

On March 29 the U.S. House of Representatives-the hotbed of opposition to bike and walking as well as transit programs-voted to extend the current surface transportation bill for another three months, saving the funding of bike and ped programs. The Senate followed two hours later.  (This marks the 9th extension of the existing transportation bill since 2009 and another victory for the growing movement to ensure federal support for biking and walking projects.)

The political forces that want to steer policies back to the 1950s-when cars and highways were seen as the only way to go-have consistently failed to muster enough votes to shift federal transportation funding into reverse.  There are several reason for this, but one of the most surprising is the emergence of bicycle advocates-and to a lesser extent pedestrian advocates-as a persuasive political lobby.


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