FABB’s message throughout the years has been that safe and reliable bike networks add value to communities by increasing multimodal transportation options, relieving congestion, providing recreation opportunities, supporting local businesses, and more. Happily, a consensus is finally emerging among policy makers and transportation planners that connected bike networks benefit everyone, including people who will never use them.
The Time is Now to act on expanding this consensus to take advantage of new opportunities to get past the problems of slow progress, minimal political will, and inadequate budgets that have hindered implementation of Fairfax County’s Bicycle Master Plan.
The Time is Now because Congress is addressing these problems by advancing billions of new dollars for bike lanes, trails, and safer streets with the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Passed in 2021, the IIJA provides an average of $1.44 billion/year for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), the largest source of federal funding for bike infrastructure. In addition, the IIJA:
- Authorizes the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program to build connected biking and walking networks.
- Requires states with high levels of bike/ped traffic crashes to spend at least 15 percent of Highway Safety Improvement Program money on projects to help such vulnerable road users.
- Expands uses of Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funding for infrastructure to get students to ride to school and for coordination with schools on infrastructure as increased levels of funding become available for Transportation Alternatives and other programs.
- Requires all states to develop standards for Complete Streets and to conduct a vulnerable road user assessment.
The Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022, meanwhile, will create a new $3 billion program titled “Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants” intended to supplement the $1 billion Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program established by the IIJA. These programs are designed to support projects, including bike lanes and multi-use paths, in communities divided by highways through rebuilding with equitable mobility infrastructure. Local governments, public authorities, and metropolitan planning organizations are eligible to apply for funding through this program.
Over the years, FABB has been a vocal and effective advocate for expanding bicycling infrastructure. FABB was instrumental in ensuring that the I-66 Outside the Beltway project included a side-trail with improved crossings and connections to nearby trail networks (opening in 2023!). Similarly, FABB fought for the inclusion of a trail with the I-495 NEXT project, is pressing for the same on the I-495 Southside Express Lanes project, advocated for the Old Meadow Road trail and bridge over I-495, and sought improvements to the Huntington Active Transportation plan.
FABB also is engaged with the annual repaving and restriping program to promote the inclusion of bike lanes and traffic calming measures. Plus, we represent riders’ interests before multiple committees and groups, including the Trails, Sidewalks, and Bikeways Committee, Transportation Advisory Commission, VDOT Statewide Bike Ped Committee, Northern Virginia Transportation Association.
Still, our accomplishments demonstrate that advancing better bicycling has been a long, hard slog.
Your support and help can enable us take advantage of these new opportunities and press harder, as the times demand, for local action to gain our fair share of new spending to speed the development of new and improved bicycling infrastructure.
Won’t you join us in our work? Your donations during our Annual Appeal here and your active participation as a FABB volunteer will make it possible for us to accomplish so much more in 2023.