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Bike and ped safety fund is back, but will it survive?

Please welcome Adam Voiland, the newest member of GGW's contributor team. Adam also writes the DC Bicycle Transportation Examiner blog.

Councilmember Graham.

Mayor Adrian Fenty has proposed setting aside $1.5 million for a bicycle and pedestrian safety fund for fiscal year 2010, Chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee Jim Graham announced with unabashed satisfaction at a recent oversight hearing.

If approved, the funds could be used for traffic calming, sidewalk construction, intersection improvement, encouraging safe routes to schools, upgrading lighting, and purchasing equipment used to enforce traffic laws.

Last year, the money set aside for a similar safety fund, which Graham pushed hard to secure, was axed late in the budget process as the Council struggled with shortfalls.

Graham, of course, vows to support the new proposal enthusiastically. "I was extremely disappointed when this money was cut [last year]," he said. "Pedestrian and bicycle safety has to be among our highest priorities."

Graham was quick to point out, however, that the funding won't necessarily survive the budget process this time around. That's especially likely if the Council removes controversial revenue raising proposals, such as a plan to collect a streetlight user fee, from the final budget. "The mayor has put together a jigsaw puzzle that produces a balanced budget. If you take one of those pieces out it creates a hole that has to be filled," he said.

To protect the funds, he urged representatives of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), who were at the meeting requesting $10,000 in operating funds for 2010, to work with cycling advocates to rally support for the fund. "There are a lot of cyclists who are very passionate about these issues. I think we need to alert them as to the essential need for them to show visible support for this," he said. "There is going to be an awful lot of pressure on the budget."


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I'm surprised the streetlight "user" fee didn't get covered over here . . .

by ah on Mar 31, 2009 12:20 pm • linkreport

Can't we get another picture of Graham?!

by Keyboarding Cate on Mar 31, 2009 12:33 pm • linkreport

related - what happened to the bike lanes on Monroe in Brookland? They were awesome and made getting over the bridge safer and easier. Now the lines are half eaten off the road leaving ghosts of two generations of lines, then some new ones are on there directing cyclists onto the sidewalk.. and it's a dangerous mess. It's hard not to get the impression that car commuters complained about sharing and now it's 2x as dangerous for everyone. Any chance we'll get those lanes back?

by Sophiagrrl on Mar 31, 2009 1:03 pm • linkreport

Adam! Great to see you here!

by Houston on Mar 31, 2009 1:11 pm • linkreport

why can't DC get around to making separated bikeways that are not in the roads with the car traffic- and thus make it a world safer for ordinary, non-racers and kamikazes to bicycle here?

The bicycling infrastructure being put- albeit at glacial speed- here in DC is geared towards making cyclists go into roads with cars. We will NEVER get ordinary people to bicycle regualrly if they continue down this idiotic and backwards path.

There is a damn good reason why the sedgway tour companies ride on the sidewalks- and that is because most people in their right mind do not wish to risk their lives competeing with auto traffic by trying to prove how fast or sleek they look in their stupid racing outfits. Bicycling should be for everyone- even if it means getting rid of the cycling restriction / ban on downtown DCs sidewalks.

Lifting the sidewalk ban and painting bike lanes on the super- wide DC sidewalks will go a long way towards making bicycling irrestable.

by w on Mar 31, 2009 1:51 pm • linkreport

adam: how about giving us some information on who we can contact to lobby in support of this fund. sure, there are a lot of us out there who feel passionate about this, but other than through waba, is there a good way to make our voices heard?

by IMGoph on Mar 31, 2009 2:35 pm • linkreport

This should be the next GGW campaign. We and our friends need to be loud and visible about the need to fund safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists. The louder we are, the more likely it'll survive, whatever they end up doing to the budget.

This seems like a good place to look for a significant part of the cost to come from non-District residents. (Disclaimer: I live outside the District.) A significant portion of walking and bicycling (and wheelchairing, and rollerblading, and jogging, and...) is done by commuters and tourists. Finding a way for them to bear part of the cost seems reasonable.

Maybe this could be done in conjunction with a push to raise $ for WMATA (whether from jurisdictions or fares) to use on improvements (e.g. safety) for bike and pedestrian connections to WMATA facilities.

by Gavin Baker on Apr 1, 2009 2:17 am • linkreport

IMGoph: Yes, there are some good ways to let your voice be heard on this. I contacted Jim Graham's office and a staffer mentioned a few things citizens interested in protecting the fund can do.

1) Contact DC council members. Start with members on the Committee of Public Works and Transportation (Wells, Menelson, K. Brown, and Bowser). Then, all the other councilmembers.

2) Attend and voice support for the fund at a public hearing on Thursday, April 2, 2009 (10 a.m.)

The committee that handles this will vote on the proposed budget by April 29, so do make sure to do any lobbying before then.

I'm going to continue following this topic and will be posting updates on my bicycle transportation blog and GGW as I find out more details. Hope that's helpful.

by Adam Voiland on Apr 2, 2009 12:22 am • linkreport

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