On February 9th, President Barack Obama presented his fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget requests outlining his administration’s spending recommendations for the upcoming year. What did the office have to say about improving conditions and infrastructure for bicycles? The President emphasized the need to grow transportation choices across the country.
The federal government funds various programs aimed at improving cycling conditions that communities can use to improve and facilitate many different modes of transportation. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER program provides grants to build multi-modal transportation systems and construct facilities to integrate bicycle travel. Obama’s new budget proposes an increase from $500 million a year to $1.25 billion for the TIGER program.
Another aspect of the President’s budget proposal that pertains to cycle transit is the FAST Act. The Act is a five year transportation re-authorization bill. This means improved roads, bridges, transit systems, railways and new infrastructure to include more passable paths for bikes. Within the FAST Act, Obama emphasized the $835 million, an amount previously approved by the Congress, set aside for the Transportation Alternatives Program. The program is one of the essential federal programs used in building bike paths, lanes and trails.
Recreational biking? The budget has a little something for that too. The President supports full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund program (LWCF) at $900 million. The program provides opportunities to purchase land for developing conservation and recreational areas which many communities have used for bike paths.
For any reader who missed this chapter in American Government class, the House of Representatives and the Senate will also fabricate budget proposals which will be reconciled with the President’s to create the ultimate budget for 2017 with the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2016.
Things appear to be looking up for cyclists around the country. Here’s to a breath of fresh air.