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NRPA asks Congress to include Parks & Recreation funding in Economic Recovery Package

From the Safe Routes to School National Partnership

One of the first legislative priorities Congress and the new Administration will take up is the economic stimulus/recovery bill. The package is expected to invest hundreds of billions in funding into infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, and schools in an attempt to jumpstart the economy. The details are still being worked out by Congress, but are likely to be finalized in the next month. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership continues to work with our national partner organizations to advocate for the inclusion of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects-including Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets projects-in the economic stimulus/recovery bill. Meanwhile, we are also asking advocates to work at the state and local levels to ensure that Safe Routes to School and bike/ped projects are included on state and local lists of ready-to-go projects.

It is critically important that advocates ramp up efforts to ensure that Safe Routes to School and bike/ped projects are included on lists of "ready-to-go projects" being compiled by cities and counties, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and state Departments of Transportation (DOTs).

Once Congress passes its legislation, it appears likely that the state DOTs will only have a short window of two to four weeks to submit their final project lists to Congress, documenting how they will spend billions in recovery dollars. While most of these state DOT lists are not public, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group has examined the lists from 19 states, and just 0.3% of their recommended projects are for bike/ped infrastructure, when bicyclists and pedestrians already comprise 10% of all trips.

We need to change this inequitable dynamic and ensure that your local bike/ped projects are incorporated into the lists being prepared by governors and state DOTs. Your bike/ped projects also need to be included on your local community lists being prepared by local officials - including mayors, city councils/board of supervisors, and MPOs. If a concerted effort does not take place immediately, it is likely that the lion's share of the hundreds of billions being invested in transportation will be focused on road and bridge projects, without a fair share for balanced transportation infrastructure including sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use paths.

Make a difference by taking action this week:
1. Call your local mayor, city councilperson/county supervisor, department of public works, state legislators, and/or MPO and use our talking points to make the case for including bike/ped projects in their lists.
2. Send a letter to your Governor and/or state DOT Director asking that they include your ready-to-go project in their list.

Thank you very much for your help. Hopefully, by working together, we can ensure that a portion of the federal recovery bill goes to build bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure across the country, laying the foundation to create livable communities and safe routes to school. If you have questions, please contact Margo Pedroso, Policy Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, at margo@saferoutespartnership.org.

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