House and Senate proposals would have included, for the first time, dedicated funding for walking and bicycling facilities
HARRISBURG – Walk & Ride PA, a diverse coalition of bicycling and walking enthusiasts, public health organizations, military officials, and other organizations interested in healthy living, said they are disappointed by the delay in legislative action on a comprehensive transportation funding solution for Pennsylvania.
The supporters said they will continue to advocate for a robust multi-modal transportation system in Pennsylvania including dedicated funds for active transportation. Without such funding, the Commonwealth will continue to lag behind neighboring states in making roads and communities safer and more accessible for active transportation – bicycling and walking.
“Proponents of Senate Bill 1 fought hard for the bill’s passage, and should be applauded for their efforts. The bill would not have gotten as far as it did without the leadership of Sen. John Rafferty, Sen. John Wozniak, Rep. Dick Hess, and Rep. Michael McGeehan,” said Steve Doster, who heads Walk & Ride PA and is Pennsylvania State Director of Mission:Readiness, a national security organization of retired generals and admirals that focuses on childhood obesity issues. “After bi-partisan votes in the Senate and House Transportation Committee, we are disheartened that the effort has stalled, and will continue to advocate for dedicated funding for walking and bicycling facilities when the legislature takes up the issue in the fall.”
Bicycling and walking modes of transportation compose 12 percent of all trips in Pennsylvania, and no state transportation funds are dedicated to bicycle or pedestrian projects. House and Senate versions of Senate Bill 1 contained language that would have provided $2 million annually in dedicated funding for walking and bicycling facilities. It was part of a newly-established fund for multimodal transportation making resources available to such facilities as rail, ports, aviation, and pedestrians and bicycles.
“Making our roads and communities safer and more accessible for walking and bicycling improve roadway safety for all, encourage environmentally-friendly transportation, serve as an economic engine, and is a cost-effective means to improved public health across Pennsylvania,” said Doster. “We strongly believe that the many benefits of active transportation warrant an investment of state funds into walking and bicycling facilities, and will continue our fight for a robust multi-modal transportation package that adequately funds all modes of transportation in the fall.”
Walk & Ride PA has highlighted four reasons why funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities is so important to the commonwealth:
- Safety: Pennsylvania had 4,770 pedestrian and 1,379 bicyclist traffic-related injuries in 2012. One of the reasons for the number of accidents is because Pennsylvania has more rural roads than any other state that are shared by cars, trucks, farm equipment, bicycles and non-motorized vehicles. Designated walkways and bicycle friendly roads improve safe travel for all users.
- Obesity: The rates of obesity among children have tripled within the last three decades. Studies show that half the adults and adolescents don’t get the recommended amount of daily physical activity. Better connecting communities for walking and biking will help people build physical activity into their daily routines.
- Air Pollution: Cars produce 30 percent of the CO2 emissions and 80 percent of the CO emissions each year. In addition, a trip to work by bicycle keeps about 10 pounds of pollutants out of the air.
- Jobs: Increasing walking and biking paths in the state is good for the economy. Bikers and hikers, for example, have brought in nearly $24 million in revenue to the Great Allegheny Passage of Western Pennsylvania. Bicycle friendly trails and roads will open Pennsylvania up to a larger share of the $46.9 billion that bicyclists spend each year for food, lodging, gifts and local entertainment.
Walk & Ride PA is a coalition created to champion dedicated state funding for bicycle and pedestrian pathways in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit www.walkandridepa.com
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN)
American Academy of Pediatrics – Pennsylvania Chapter
American Heart Association
Lebanon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Pennsylvania Walks and Bikes
Walk Bike Berks
American Diabetes Association
Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs
PA Association of School Nurses and Practitioners
United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA
Contact: Danielle Gross
(717) 214-2200 office / (717) 418-9001 cell