At a press conference outside the Capitol this morning, where gusty winds nearly carried off the visual aids (if it weren’t for a few diligent supporters), bicycle advocates joined members of Congress to unveil the results of a new survey about federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The telephone poll of 1,003 Americans, commissioned by the advocacy group America Bikes and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, was unequivocal: 83 percent said that federal bike-ped funding should increase, or at the very least be maintained.
“Even we were surprised,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “From this day forward, we can say with total confidence that this issue has bipartisan support and is in the national interest.”
The poll is timely, coming the day after the first official meeting of the House-Senate conference committee charged with hammering out a compromise transportation bill before policy expires on June 30. The Senate bill includes some protections for bike-ped programs and devolves certain funding decisions to cities and local governments, while early drafts of the House bill eliminated those programs altogether.
Even more notable than the overwhelming support for current funding levels (and “increasing” had the edge over “maintaining,” 47 percent to 36) was the constant level of support across geographic, demographic, economic, and — perhaps most surprisingly — political boundaries. Among self-identified Republicans, 80 percent still favored maintaining or increasing bike-ped funding, compared to 88 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Independents.
“Every way you cut the numbers, it makes it all the more perverse that a few members of Congress would be opposed to this,” Clarke told Streetsblog.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Tom Petri (R-WI) were on hand to tout the survey’s results and defend the importance of bicycle and pedestrian programs.
“Some people fight crime, some people fight terrorism,” said Durbin, enumerating just a few reasons to enter public service. “The Tea Party came to fight bikes.” Durbin, who sits on the transportation bill conference committee, said that even his suburban and rural constituents are incredibly proud of their bicycle infrastructure and want to see continued federal support.