Talking Points

Safe Routes Partnership
Talking Points on Economic Stimulus/Recovery Bill
January 14, 2009

For use with your local mayor, city councilperson/county supervisor,
public works director, state legislators, and/or MPO official (try to reach as many people as possible)

Introduce the Subject
• I am calling to talk to you about our community’s plans for spending any funding that Congress may provide through the economic stimulus and recovery bill.
• I’ve heard that most of the decision making will be delegated by Congress to the states, and I am concerned that our state Department of Transportation may be overlooking a lot of bicycle and pedestrian projects in how they are planning to spend the funds.
• There are over $2 billion worth of “ready-to-go” bicycle and pedestrian projects across the U.S. that can create jobs right now.

Ask for Support of Local Projects
Use the talking points in this section only if you have one or more ready-to-go project(s) in your local community that can be started within 90 days. These projects must already be designed and have cleared other hurdles like environmental review.
• In (NAME OF COMMUNITY), it has been a priority for years to build (NAME OF PROJECT). It needs $X to be constructed, and should be included in our state’s list.
• This project is important to our community because… (refer to the Other Rationale section below and select the arguments that apply to your project).

Make the Asks
• Would it be possible for you to share whether or not bicycle and pedestrian projects are already represented on our community’s list of projects? If you’re not sure, how can we work together to ensure that our local lists of ready-to-go projects include bicycle and pedestrian projects?
• How can we ensure that our state DOT incorporates these priorities into their lists? Currently, less than 0.3% of state DOT projects are bicycle and pedestrian projects, when bicyclists and pedestrians represent 10% of trips nationally. [To use state-specific information, see if your state DOT’s list has been examined for the breakdown between road, transit, and bike/ped projects on page 8 of this report issued by the US Public Interest Research Group:
• For road projects that are on our community’s list of projects, will you ask that they be built to include accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists, making for complete streets?
• These types of projects are important to our community because… (refer to the Other Rationale section below and select those talking points that best apply to your community).
• Is there any additional information I can provide to help make the case for including bicycle/pedestrian projects on our list and the state’s list?
• Thank you for your time today. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Other Rationale
• Bicycle, pedestrian, and Safe Routes to School projects are quick. Because they are smaller, states and cities can spend the money quickly – and the projects are more likely to benefit local engineering and construction firms, as well as the local “Main Street” economy.
• Building bicycling and walking infrastructure creates jobs now. Bike and pedestrian infrastructure is more labor intensive and less material intensive than building roads, thus netting more jobs for dollars spent.
• Sidewalks, pathways, and bike lanes make streets and downtowns into destinations for shopping and entertainment. Investing in walking and bicycling facilities helps local business and is an investment in the local economy.
• 24% of all trips in the US are less than a mile, 40% are less than two miles. Walking and bicycling facilities, including those that connect to transit, help Americans with their bottom-line transportation costs. When families can walk and bicycle to school, work, shopping, and transit, it eases the burden of automobile expenses. And it lays an important foundation to address some of our nation’s major crises, such as climate, energy, and health.
• A recovery package that includes funding for transportation infrastructure but does not include investments to improve bicycling, walking, and Safe Routes to School denies the current trends in transportation and the safety needs of the American public. Bicycling has increased rapidly in the US—in some cities it has increased more than 35% in the last two years.
• Bicycling and pedestrian improvements also help wean us for foreign oil and support a healthy and sustainable future for America.