Federal Policy

A key focus of the Safe Routes Partnership is to serve as an advocate for Safe Routes to School and related issues with Congress and the federal government and to monitor implementation of Safe Routes to School funding. Because Safe Routes to School affects communities in so many ways, our legislative priorities include transportation, education, health, and the environment.

Below you will find the latest information on the Safe Routes Partnership’s legislative priorities and calls to action. You can explore the links on the left for detailed information on the current federal transportation law (the FAST Act), state implementation, and background on the legislative history.  For a comprehensive search of all our resources, conduct an advanced search of our resource library.

FAST Act Background and Resources

In December 2015, Congress passed a transportation law, the FAST Act, that locks in five years of funding for Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking. Background on the law, the changes it makes to the Transportation Alternatives Program, and its impact on Safe Routes to School is available in our FAST Act Background and Resources.

Latest News and Information:

Transportation Bill Heads to Extension
September 3, 2020: 
Unfortunately the gains for active transportation and safety for people walking and biking that we won in the House and Senate transportation bills are at risk.  Congress has not been able to get a final bill over the finish line, and with less than a month till the FAST Act expires, an extension of current law is most likely.  Read our federal policy blog for more details.

House Transportation Bill Advances with More Infrastructure Priorities
JULY 1, 2020: The INVEST in America Act, which includes $7 billion for active transportation, has been combined with a number of other infrastructure priorities (green energy, housing, school facilities, and more).  The whole package was passed by the House of Representatives last week, though Republicans are objecting to the cost and climate provisions.  Read more about the process and next steps in our federal policy blog.  

House Transportation Bill Gets Even Better as It Moves Through Committee
June 18, 2020: After more than 24 hours and 300+ amendments, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passed the INVEST in America Act. An already good bill got even better with the addition of several amendments addressing safety, Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets. The bill next goes to the full House for a vote, anticipate for July 1.

House Transportation Bill Includes Big Wins for Biking and Walking
June 4, 2020: On June 3, Rep. DeFazio (D-OR), along with Rep. Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Lipinski (D-IL), released the House transportation reauthorization legislation, the INVEST in America Act. The bill proposes $494 billion over five years.  Thanks to our advocacy partnership with the League of American Bicyclists, it includes greater investments in biking and walking, safety for people walking and biking, and the Safe Routes to School program returns.  Read all about those and many other provisions (including a big climate program) in our federal policy update.

What's Next for Congress to Tackle Coronavirus
May 12, 2020: Since our last post in early April describing the CARES Act, Congress has refilled the pot of funding for small business loans and provided funding to hospitals and testing. It is much less clear at this point what is next as Congress tries to address COVID-19 and its impact on the economy. The next bill Congress works on will most likely still be focused on the immediate impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak, with a later package this summer focusing on trying to get people back to work and restore the economy. This later package is where infrastructure has the most likelihood of happening. Read more in our latest federal blog post.

Congress tackles relief and looks ahead to recovery
April 7, 2020:
Last week, Congress passed the CARES Act with emergency funding for a number of industries, including $25 billion for transit. Read our federal update for more information about CARES and what may be next for Congress. 

Rep. Brown introduces bill to expand Safe Routes
February 18, 2020:
We are pleased to announce that Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD) has joined with seven other House Democrats (Reps. Brownley-CA, Espaillat-NY, Lipinski-IL, Cohen-TN, Huffman-CA, Titus-NV, and Carson-IN) to introduce the Safe Routes to School Expansion Act, HR 5891.  

House Prioritizes Infrastructure
January 29, 2020:
House leadership has unveiled a $760 billion Moving America Forward infrastructure package outline. We are hopeful about the prospects for a transportation reauthorization that will include higher investments and priorities for biking, walking and Safe Routes; read more in our federal policy blog.

New Fiscal Year, New Transfers and Obligations
January 27, 2020:
States have received a new year's worth of funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program. Take a look at our quarterly TAP tracking chart to see how your state is doing in implementing TAP.

Rescissions Cancelled; New House TAP Bill Introduced
November 25, 2019:
Congress has repealed the pending transportation rescission that would have negatively impacted TAP, and Reps. Espaillat and Larsen introduce the Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act.  Full details are in our federal policy blog.

Checking in with the House on the Transportation Reauthorization
November 6, 2019:
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee is gearing up to get to work on writing its version of the next transportation law, and Reps. Blumenauer, Buchanan, and Pressley introduce a Vision Zero bill. Learn more in our latest federal policy update.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about how states are using TAP
October 25, 2019:
We are now at the end of the fiscal year, and we have a record month for funds obligated, but an unfortunately high amount of TAP money being transferred or lapsed.  Learn more in our federal policy blog

States Get More TAP Funds Out the Door
August 1, 2019: Our TAP tracking chart shows that in the second quarter of 2019, states obligated $182 million in TAP funding—30 percent better than last quarter.  States also cut in half the amount of funds that could potentially lapse at the end of September, with only 9 states (AZ, AR, DC, HI, MS, NH, NY, SC, WY) having more than 5 percent of TAP funds at risk. It’s particularly critical that states obligate as much as possible in this last quarter of FY19 so that no funds lapse, and also because a rescission planned for July 2020 will be based on the amount of unobligated funds as of the end of September 2019. We also saw five states (AZ, MN, NH, NC, and TN) transfer a total of $32 million away from TAP into other transportation programs.

SEnate Transportation Bill Takes Big STrides for Biking and Walking
July 29, 2019:
Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unveiled its transportation reauthorization legislation. It includes major new funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program and safety for people walking and biking, plus a climate title and many new provisions to help make communities more accessible and healthier.  Read all the details in our federal policy blog

Reps. Brownley and Espaillat Step up For Safety
June 6, 2019: Reps. Brownley (D-CA-26) and Espaillat (D-NY-13) have teamed up to introduce HR 3040, the Safe and Friendly for the Environment (SAFE) Streets Act. Read more in our federal policy blog about how the legislation would ensure that federal safety funds are direted towards projects that make walking and rolling safer.

Congress Shifts into Gear on Transportation Reauthorization
May 31, 2019: 
After talks on a large infrastructure package failed, Congress is now refocusing on the transportation reauthorization.  The Senate is expected to go first, sometime this summer. Read our federal policy blog for more details!

States Keep TAP Funding Rolling
May 8, 2019:
For the first quarter of 2019, our TAP tracking chart shows that states made good progress, obligating $139 million from TAP.  This means that more than half of the states have fully obligated their 2016 funds, meaning they will not let funding lapse at the end of September. Six states transferred money away from TAP, resulting in a loss of $55M that could have gone to biking and walking. Also, if you need a refresher on why this data matters, please see last quarter's explainer on the TAP quarterly tracking report.

Senators Cardin and Wicker Lead on TAP
April 12, 2019:
This week, Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Wicker (R-MS) introduced S. 1098, the Transportation Alternatives Enhancements Act. Read more about the Senators and the legislation in our latest federal policy update.

Transportation Heats up in the Senate
MarcH 27, 2019:
Senators are being asked to submit their transportation priorities, and we are working hard to elevate walking and biking.  Read our latest federal policy blog to learn more about how we think the next transportation bill can transform our communities into safer places for walking and biking.

Congress talks Climate and Transportation
March 4, 2019: 
Climate change has been making a lot of news in the new Congress – from the Green New Deal resolution to a recent hearing on climate and transportation.  Read more in our federal blog about how biking and walking fits into this conversation.

An Explainer: State Implementation of TAP
February 8, 2019:
We have updated our TAP quarterly state of the states to provide more context on a state's progress.  In this update, we explain what the various columns in the quarterly report mean, and why they matter.

Congressional Leaders SPeak out on Safe Routes, Biking, Walking
January 31, 2019:
The House and Senate transportation committee leadership has been set, and several of these new leaders are already speaking out in support of Safe Routes to School and improving safety for people biking and walking.  Read our federal update for more about these leaders who will be shaping the next transportation bill and their remarks on biking and walking.

2018 Election Results: What do they mean for active transportation?
November 15, 2018: 
The votes are (mostly) in, and Democrats gained the majority in the House and Republicans retained the majority in the Senate. Read our latest federal policy blog for more on key transportation leaders and what's on tap for 2019.

State Report Cards: A Tool to Improve TAP in your state
July 9, 2018:
Check out this month's federal policy blog for ideas on how to use the 2018 Making Strides State Report Cards to improve how your state uses its Transportation Alternatives Program funds!

A Primer on NHTSA’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Dollars
May 25, 2016: In addition to the Transportation Alternatives Program, there are other federal funding streams that can help address safety issues.  In this month's federal policy blog, we focus on understanding the 402 and 405 grants, which provide federal dollars to improve safety in each state.

Measuring Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety: USDOT Says it Matters
March 23, 2016: The US Department of Transportation has released a new safety performance measure that requires states to set targets each year for reducing deaths and injuries--including for non-motorized users. Read our new federal policy blog to get a better understanding about how the rule works, and how it can help influence the spending of billions of dollars for safety.

Older News

October 23, 2018: States leap ahead with TAP spending
September 26, 2018:
Progress on spending bills; concerns on automated vehicles bill
July 26, 2018:
Shuster proposal sets stage for transportation reauthorization
July 16, 2018:
States buckle down on spending TAP; Some states risk losing funds
June 4, 2018:
Federal policy hodgepodge: transportation spending, GHG rule, and updated state ratings!
April 30, 2018:
Different name, similar program: TIGER morphs into BUILD
March 26, 2018:
Congress rejects big budget cuts
February 12, 2018:White House releases backwards infrastructure package and spending priorities
February 5, 2018:
What we value for any infrastructure package
January 3, 2018:
Congress kicked the can to January
NOVEMBER 29, 2017:
It's crunch time (again) for Congress
October 25, 2017:
Most states make big moves on TAP; some squander TAP funds
September 28, 2017:
Woodall amendment compromises local control of transportation dollars
September 5, 2017:
Crunch time for Congress and the states
July 31, 2017:
Congressional confusion: tax cuts or infrastructure up next?
June 28, 2017:
Fits and starts on infrastructure and health care legislation
May 24, 2017:
Proposed 2018 Trump Budget includes infrastructure proposal, detrimental cuts
May 12, 2017:
States get two new ways to avoid spending money on biking and walking
March 29, 2017:
Next up for Congress: Government funding and taxes
March 27, 2017: Ask Congress to join in Vision Zero
March 1, 2017:
Consulting the crystal ball on infrastructure
January 13, 2017:
USDOT acknowledges we should measure people, not just cars
January 4, 2017:
States transfer millions in TAP funding; hold your state accountable 
December 1, 2016: 
Election results: what it means for Safe Routes to School and healthy communities
September 29, 2016:  FHWA's new Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation sets goals to eliminate biking and walking fatalities in 30 years
September 19, 2016: Sign on to support a significant investment in physical activity
SEptember 7, 2016:
States obligate $120 million in TAP funds, but transfer $120 million away from the program; Safe Routes funds nearly maxed out
August 31, 2016:
Thousands tell USDOT to count people not cars; AASHTO says your opinion shouldn't matter
July 27, 2016:
Take a look at the transportation platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties
June 29, 2016:
Learn more about our 2016 Making Strides report cards and how they rate states on implementation of TAP
June 18, 2016: States obligate $86 million in TAP funds; small progress with Safe Routes funds
May 17, 2016:
USDOT issues new guidance for the Transportation Alternatives Program
April 27, 2016:
Tell USDOT that we should measure people, not just cars!
March 31, 2016:
New state report cards score states on physical activity policies and funding
March 23, 2016:
States access new TAP funds; old Safe Routes funds dwindle
February 24, 2016:
The details on Transportation Alternatives Program Funding for 2016
January 14, 2016:
Listen to our webinar on the impact of the FAST Act on Safe Routes to School
January 6, 2016:
A new year, a new transportation law: What now?
December 15, 2015:
States obligate significant TAP dollars; finish out remaining Safe Routes commitments
December 3, 2015:
Congress locks in funding for Safe Routes with passage of the FAST Act, a new five-year transportation bill
November 1, 2015:
Speak up to protect Safe Routes funding!
October 20, 2015:
House transportation bill on the move
October 2, 2015:
House transportation bill coming soon?
September 29, 2015:
A new publication demonstrates how MPOs can advance Safe Routes to School using TAP funds.
September 18, 2015:
States on a roll with TAP funds; remaining Safe Routes funds shrinking
SEPTEMBER 9, 2015:
Act now: Funding for bicycling and walking needs your support!
AUGUST 28, 2015:
House transportation bill on tap for September
JULY 30, 2015:
Congress punts transportation until fall
JULY 24, 2015:
Senate  inches forward on transportation bill
JULY 16, 2015:
House and Senate on different paths for transportation
JUNE 22, 2015:
Senate committee unveils DRIVE Act; Needs more to support bicycling and walking
JUNE 10, 2015:
House rejects amendment to limit safe routes to transit
JUNE 5, 2015:
Safe Routes to School allocations top $1 billion; states keep moving on TAP funds
MAY 26, 2015:
Federal transportation bill extended again
APRIL 29, 2015:
Momentum builds for Transportation Alternatives bill
APRIL 7, 2015:
Broad support for the Transportation Alternatives Program
MARCH 25, 2015:
Ask your Senator: Speak up for Safe Routes to School
MARCH 19, 2015:
Two new bills advance funding and safety for Safe Routes to School, bicycling, and walking
MARCH 17, 2015:
States receive and allocate TAP dollars; continue progress on Safe Routes to School
FEBRUARY 24, 2015:
What's at stake this spring in Congress
JANUARY 30, 2015:
Congress casts about for transportation funding solution

Legislative Archives