BikeTexas is always happy to receive status updates on bike/ped issues from elected officials in Texas. This report is from the Honorable Lloyd Doggett, U.S. Congressman from Texas and a senior member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees.
Long ago, I served as Captain of the Safety Patrol at Bryker Woods Elementary. Today, I am on a different kind of patrol. As a Member of the Bike Caucus, I am working to provide “leadership in complementing the efforts of the millions of cyclists actively working for safer roads, more bikeways, convenient bike parking and increased recognition of the importance of cycling for transportation and recreation.”
Earlier this year, I called on the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to continue the successful Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill, which reviews and reauthorizes federal transportation laws. Unfortunately, Chairman John Mica (Florida House District 7) is moving forward with a bill that eliminates guaranteed funding for the RTP program, the Safe Routes to School Program, and funding for Transportation Enhancements. All of these programs support cycling and walking, while improving sustainability and the quality of life in our community. At the same time, Chairman Mica’s bill proposes a funding level that is insufficient to pay for current roads and bridges, much less meet future infrastructure needs.
The news from the Senate is better. Senator Barbara Boxer (California), that chamber’s lead negotiator on the transportation bill, has said that she hopes to move a short-term bill at a significantly higher funding level, while maintaining support for biking and walking. However, Chairman Mica’s actions indicate that this will be a struggle.
In the past, I have worked to support cycling and biking in our community. I secured important federal funds for the Hill County Conservancy’s “Walk-for-a-Day,” project, which provides trails for hikers and cyclists that extends from Barton Springs to Hays County. This project is proving a success with families and nature lovers of all kinds, giving locals and visitors the opportunity to exercise and appreciate the beauty of the Hill Country. It also has practical economic benefits to area small businesses, both from those enjoying the trail and by making the area a more desirable place to live. In addition, I was able to secure monies to construct East Austin trails, which will connect with the eastern end of the Lance Armstrong Crosstown Bikeway.
While much uncertainty remains, my commitment to advancing cycling and to improving our trails does not. Let me hear from you about your priorities on this or any other federal issue by emailing me at Lloyd.Doggett@mail.house.gov or calling me at 512-916-5921.