Happy new year! January 3rd marked the start of the 118th Congress, and we are enthusiastic about our ongoing work to keep Safe Routes to School relevant and prioritized in federal policy. As we shared last month, the majority of our legislative priorities were included in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, so this year, we are working toward the following:
- Cultivating new legislative champions for Safe Routes to School, as two of our past bill leads have left Congress due to retirement or election to statewide positions
- Monitoring implementation of the Transportation Alternatives Program and Highway Safety Improvement Program
- Supporting appropriations requests for programs like Healthy Streets (authorized, but not funded in the BIL), increasing funding for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program (ATIIP), and increasing funding for the CDC’s State Physical Activity and Nutrition and Active People Healthy Nation programs
To achieve these goals, we need your help! We need fresh stories, photos, and video clips of Safe Routes to School programs in action to share with members of Congress, we need to hear from you – what’s working and what’s not working with the TAP and HSIP programs; what ideas do you have for how to improve Safe Routes to School programs? Did you receive a TAP grant and want to show off what your community built or was able to achieve with it? Are you interested in connecting with your member of Congress to share the great work your Safe Routes to School program is doing? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
As we closed out our December federal policy update, we had a few outstanding items that we want to give you the latest information on:
- Shailen Bhatt was confirmed as the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on December 8, 2022, giving the agency its first Senate-confirmed head under the Biden administration.
- Congress passed an FY23 Budget! On the active transportation front, we were so pleased to see that the ATIIP was funded at $45 million. This program, originally conceived of by Rails to Trails Conservancy, and lobbied for by many of our partners, including the League of American Bicyclists, invests in large-scale connectivity of local active transportation networks. While fully funding the program would require a $500 million investment, seeing the program get this initial funding provides a great starting point for this program to get it up and running under the current administration, and a foothold to grow in the future. Not included in the final budget was the Healthy Streets program, which remains a priority of ours this year.
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure committee elected Rick Larsen(D-WA-02) as the Ranking Member of that committee. Representative Larsen has been a champion for active transportation safety and access in the past, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in this new leadership position.