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Is Congress Trying to Put the Kibosh on TIGER Funding For Bike/Ped?

9:56 AM EST on November 29, 2011

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Did TIGER spend too much money on bicycle and pedestrian programs? That's the question Larry Ehl at Transportation Issues Daily is asking. After all, Congress appears to be encouraging USDOT to spend TIGER grant money on something -- anything -- other than bike/ped.

It's right there in the 2012 transportation appropriation bill, which President Obama signed into law November 18. The TIGER section includes this mandate: “The conferees direct the Secretary to focus on road, transit, rail and port projects.” It doesn't specifically say anything about bicycles and pedestrians, but reading between the lines, it's easy to see what they mean. And as Ehl says, it's a warning for USDOT to "tread lightly, or risk giving TIGER opponents more reasons to eliminate future funding for the program."

Ehl suggests we "look at the actual numbers" and decide for ourselves:

  • TIGER I (Recovery Act) allocated $43,500,000 to two exclusively bike-ped projects. That was about 3% of the $1,498,000,000 awarded and 4% of the 51 projects.
  • TIGER II allocated $25,200,000 to two exclusively bike-ped projects. That was 4.5% out of the $556,500,000 awarded to capital projects and about 5% of the 42 projects. (TIGER II also awarded $27,500,000 for 33 planning grants.)
In addition to the four bike/ped projects TIGER supported, Ehl notes, there were "quite a few highway, transit and rail projects that included a bike-ped component, such as adding sidewalks." He lists them all in his post.
Still, that's 4.5 percent of all TIGER funds that went to exclusively bike/ped projects in the first two rounds. Considering that trips by foot and by bike make up about 12 percent of all trips, a 4.5 percent share of funding doesn't seem like too much. In fact, it seems like it's just barely beginning to balance out a transportation system that's been far too skewed toward road projects for far too long.

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