Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting Arizona's Fair Share - Federal Funds Available for Bicycle Advocacy Access

The League of American Bicyclists gave all of us in advocacy a "gift of knowledge", and a de facto challenge, by outlining major federal funding sources for bicycle-related programs and infrastructure improvement in the September/October 2009 issue of American Bicyclist. Now, it is up to those of us in Arizona advocacy to make sure we are getting our fair share.

As briefly and succinctly as I can, using the LAB-published article by Anna Kelso and Darren Flusche as my primary guide, here is an oversimplified summary description of federal programs from which we (Arizona) can get funds for various bicycle-related purposes:

CMAQ -- The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program funds transportation projects designed to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. This program is especially targeted to areas that don't meet national air quality standards, such as metro-Phoenix. CMAQ funds have been used for capital spending on such things as bicycle facilities, racks and lockers, and for marketing materials and operating costs for bicycle sharing projects. The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists is encouraging the City of Phoenix to consider using CMAQ funds for facilities similar to Tempe's Bike Cellar (bike commuter station) or to partner with urban YMCAs and/or gyms to provide bike lockers/storage that would (in combination with shower/locker facilities) promote bicycle commuting.

HSIP -- The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a SAFETEA-LU program that has as its purpose to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries through infrastructure-related improvements. In Arizona, most (70%) of this program funding is controlled/allocated by ADOT, with the balance available to Associations of Governments (e.g. MAG, PAG) and local communities. According the LAB, Arizona was recently ranked 49th of 50 states in utilizing available funds, which are provided in the form of a 90% federal match of 10% state/local funding for qualifying projects on virtually any state, county or municipal road/street. The "hurdle" for proposed projects has been fatality history, though some states are beginning to use more forward-looking projected fatality/serious injury criteria. The administration of HSIP funds in Arizona by ADOT is currently in a bit of flux, and should be a very visible "target" for advocacy inquiry and action. AGs should also be queried as to their knowledge of this funding opportunity and degree to which they have applied for funding. It is my understanding that these funds could be used to help pave roadway shoulders, construct traffic calming, provide signage at bicycle-pedestrian crossings and for other infrastructure projects that are already on the planning boards. Why ADOT/Arizona has not been more aggressive to fighting for "our fair share" remains a bit of a mystery.

Section 402 -- The State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program (aka Section 402) funds highway safety programs designed to reduce traffic crashes, deaths and property damage. Safety programs may include data analyses, education and community safety campaigns, as well as some limited engineering projects. State Highway Safety Offices are recipients of funds from the federal government, and then are responsible for managing and allocation the spending within the state.

For more information on these programs, we may consult the League of American Bicyclists in addition to the federal and state program administrators. It is incumbent on all of us in advocacy leadership positions to become more educated and aware of available funds, and to make sure our constituents get our fair share put to work in our state.

Bob Beane

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