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Why Cuts to Federal Funding for Bike Infrastructure May Be a Good Thing

Despite the rise in bicycling in many U.S. cities, federal funds have shrunk in the recent transportation bill. However changes in the way funds are allocated allows for more local control, and cities are stepping up.
September 22, 2012, 9am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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As we've reported just a few times, bicycle travel across the U.S. is on the rise, with many local governments stepping up funding and proposing new infrastructure in an effort to attract even greater bicycle use. Yet, federal funding for the mode has shrunk in the most recent transportation bill out of Congress.

Still, cities are finding something to be happy about, reports Tal Kopan. With the lower federal funding also comes changes in the way finds are allocated, giving greater control back to local governments. "The money bypasses the state's Department of Transportation and goes right to the local agencies," writes Kopan.

"Now, we basically control how a certain chunk of the funding will be distributed on a local level while still being able to apply for other funds for projects," said David Cary, a city planner in Lincoln, Neb. "We're assuming the funding is going to dip down for the state, but locally, we might actually be guaranteed more money."

In the long run, says Oklahoma City's mayor Mick Cornett, it's up to cities to take the lead in improving bike infrastructure anyway. "Cities have to realize that whatever the federal government is going to do, it's not going to be enough," Cornett said. "And cities that proactively take control of their own quality of life initiatives are going to be the cities that ultimately attract the highly talented young people and create the jobs. And if you're waiting for the federal government to build your pedestrian-friendly initiatives, you're going to get left behind."

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Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 in Politco
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