Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
You thought getting your ride stolen was bad. Proposed cuts to key agencies and programs clip the lock on future bike trails.
This probably won’t come as a surprise, given the tenor of the rest of CityLab’s recent coverage of the topic, but President Trump’s fuzzy budget proposal does the cycling community approximately zero favors. In honor of our gala Bike Week festivities, let us count the ways.
Save the TIGER!
Since 2009, Congress has doled out nearly $5 billion for the USDOT’s highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which funds road, port, mass transportation, and bike/ped projects designed to generate economic and environmental benefits for communities that haven’t always had them. As of last December, TIGER dished more than $310 million to 24 projects focused on cycling and walking infrastructure, and dozens of transit improvements that include bike-ped links.
A few highlights: The eight mile, fully protected Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which connects cyclists and walkers to six districts around the city, was made possible by a $20 million TIGER grant in 2010. The city of Lihue, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, received $13 million in 2015 for a “complete streets,” bike-friendly makeover of its downtown core, a project currently in the design phase. Last year, Atlanta received $16 million to upgrade seven miles of its infamously dangerous Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, with plans to include a separated cycle track and multi-use trails.
Trump’s budget eliminates all funding for TIGER. The DOT faces a 17 percent cut to its total discretionary budget, and the Highway Trust Fund loses $95 million in funding. Doesn’t bode well for road maintenance, for riders or drivers.
No walk in the park
Established in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has proven to be one of the most effective funding tools there is for protecting and creating green spaces and public lands, taking offshore oil drilling revenues to pouring them into “local, state, and national parks, as well as other public lands such as forests, shorelines, historic sites, and wildlife refuges,” according to the Land Trust Alliance. It’s also enjoyed bipartisan support, and has protected 3 million acres of land for hundreds of millions of visitors across the country. Trump’s budget slashes the LWCF by 84 percent.
The Department of the Interior manages about one-fifth of all land surface in the United States, providing thousands of miles of scenic trails for hikers, horse riders, and, increasingly, cyclists. Trump’s budget cuts the DOI’s budget by 5.3 percent.
We probably won’t need this chronic disease prevention either
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention passes on hundreds of millions of dollars from Congress to state and local programs designed to prevent chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity. A lot that goes to stuff like clinical services, health education, and research, but some of the money goes to projects that revamp the physical contours of communities with public health in mind. Often that means pedestrian and bike-friendly infrastructure. For example, the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grants recently gave Fairfield, Connecticut $2 million to build its first bike route.
Trump’s budget cuts the CDC’s current spending for disease prevention and health promotion by $222 million. The CDC would face a total cut of $1.2 billion, or about 17 percent of its total budget.
There are probably other corners of this budget that bash in your bike spokes. As always, remember that this document is just a starting point; Congress will undoubtedly shred this to pieces. To encourage that, cyclists should should hit up their representatives now.