The National Bike Summit took place online from February 28 to March 3, 2021. This year’s theme was “Bikes: Our Vehicle for Change”. The League of American Bicyclists chose this theme in recognition of the power of bicycling to move us forward, even in the most challenging of times.
This year, the Summit took place at a critical time in Washington because we have a new administration and a new Congress. This is why Bike Anchorage could not miss this opportunity and decided to take the lead and be the State Coordinator for the Bike Lobby meetings with the members of Congress. We want to tell you about the meetings we had with the offices of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young.
The state coordinator was Bike Anchorage Director, Devora Barrera, accompanied by Diana Rhodes from Anchorage Park Foundation and our board and Advocacy member Emily Weiser; yes, we are proud to share that this year the Alaska lobby meetings were fully attended by women from Anchorage. We invite you to click on their names to learn a little bit more about these two amazing humans!
Here is a brief summary of what we talked about in the meetings:
1. Benefits of biking and walking in Anchorage and Alaska
2. The transportation reauthorization bill currently under discussion. We asked their feelings about the bill moving forward this year and their support for increased funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
3. Opportunities to strengthen the Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act through local control and state flexibility [H.R.463].
- This bill gives access to 2% of transportation funding for local priorities.
- Roughly 50% of all funds for biking and walking projects comes from this small program.
- With the existing program, we have a real mismatch between needs and what’s funded. For 2018-2019, Alaska had a reported 2 billion dollars of funding needs and 29% of project applications to the program went unfunded.
- Of the 70 projects funded in the state to date, 58 have been recreational trails and only 12 have been facilities for transportation. We expressed our concern with the increasing deaths of vulnerable road users in Anchorage.
4. Asked to co-sponsor the SAFE Streets Act bill [H.R.508]
- Anchorage has the highest pedestrian death rate in the state and state and local leaders are working hard on a plan to have zero deaths but have not achieved anything in particular yet.
- Nationally, bicycling and walking fatalities now make up 20% of overall highway fatalities but states spend roughly 1% of Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds on bicycling and walking safety.
- The bill would rank states by Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) fatalities and serious injuries, and then require those above the median to identify dangerous corridors and potential solutions to fix them and spend a small number of funds fixing those areas
5.The Complete Streets Act [S.2077]
- Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Without Complete Streets, roadways are often designed and operated based only on vehicle metrics.
- This bill would help local communities implement Complete Streets policies to ensure that moving forward new roads will be built for all users, ensuring efficient use of funds and removing the need for later retrofits.
- This bill would also create a grant program to fix existing roads and make them safer. It directs states to create a grant program to fund technical assistance and construction grants for states to build Complete Streets projects.
We wrapped up each meeting requesting their contact information to keep in touch and a follow-up meeting to come.