Take Action Now to Support Safe Routes to School and Other Physical Activity Programs in the Federal Transportation Bill
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership (SRTSNP) has authored a letter to encourage Congress when taking up the new transportation bill, to sustain and expand funding for Safe Routes to School and other programs that promote health and safety. Over seventy organizations (including NCPPA) have already signed onto the letter and SRTSNP is still accepting signatures. Please sign your organization onto this letter to Congress that urges the inclusion of health performance outcomes in the next transportation bill.
SRTSNP has provided some interesting background on the issue: Currently, the U.S. federal government spends approximately $60 billion/year on transportation infrastructure. This outlay is dwarfed by the costs to our country resulting from the negative health impacts of transportation. Americans spend:
- $76 billion a year on health care costs related to physical inactivity, partly because many individuals cannot safely walk, bicycle, or access public transit;
- $164 billion a year on health care costs associated with traffic injuries and deaths; and
- Between $40 and $64 billion a year on health care costs associated with asthma and other health conditions related to high rates of air pollution.
You can click here to view a complete list of organizations who have signed on to the letter. You can review the letter and find sign-on instructions at: http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/national/45755/45848. The deadline for organizational signatures is October 31, 2008. Please contact Margo Pedroso, SRTSNP Policy Manager, with any questions.
Complete The Streets Act S2686/ HR5951
The Complete The Streets Coalition is asking physical activity advocates to please remember to send letters to your federal representatives, urging their support of the complete streets bill. They are also asking organizations to consider linking their action page on your blog or website. The Coalition cites an impressive example of why this is effective… blogger Roger Kramer posted about the federal bill on his bicycle blog on Wednesday, October 8 and within one day the coalition had about 30 letters submitted from his readers in Missouri!
Bicycle Commuter Act Becomes Law
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-D) has worked tirelessly with bicycle advocates for seven years to win a tax credit for bicycle commuters…but ironically after being rejected time after time, the credit became law in a matte of days. The initiative was deep in the jowls of the $700 billion financial rescue plan adopted by Congress earlier this month. Ironically, the credits’ #1 congressional champion voted against the rescue package even though it included the program he had long fought to see become law. Reportedly, the Congressman had received thousands of calls from constituents urging him to vote no to the package and he was frustrated with the lack of provisions to help individual homeowners among other things included in the package. The good news for physical activity advocates is that the law will take effect in January. Included below is an explanation of the law provided by Congressman Blumenauer.
How The Law Works:
- For employees who regularly commute to work by bicycle, employers may offset the costs of bicycle purchase, improvement, repair, and storage at the rate of $20 per month.
- Based on how the employer chooses to offer the benefits, the employee may bring receipts to be reimbursed, may sign up for regular monthly payments, or devise some sort of voucher system with their employer.
- Bike commuters are not allowed to receive transit or parking benefits in addition to the bike benefit.
- The bike commuter benefit can be provided by employers beginning January 1, 2009.
How The Statute Reads:
Section 132 of the tax code excludes from gross income certain fringe benefits offered by employers to employees, including transportation benefits. Under the new law,“qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements” are included within the definition of transportation benefits. The League of American Bicyclists has the law in its entirety on their website-click here to view it.
Commuting By The Numbers
- With over 50% of the working population commuting 5 miles or less to work, bicycles offer the strongest potential for reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips.
- According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, bicycles are second only to cars as a preferred form of transportation. Excluding this highly preferred mode of transportation is counterintuitive.
- Studies have shown that when facilities such as bike parking or showers
Trails and Health Initiatives
The National Recreation and Park Association is looking for communities that have anecdotal evidence of the health and trail connection as well as those that are planning trails from the health standpoint. Please forward any such information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
S1494: Training Component: Introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation. Provides that the classroom component of driver’s education shall include information concerning the laws pertaining to bicycles and emphasize awareness of the operation of bicycles on the streets, roads and highways.
AB 1358 California Complete Streets Act of 2008: Signed into Law: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the California Complete Streets Act of 2008 into law on September 30th. The new law, introduced by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and cosponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition and AARP California, requires cities and counties to include complete streets policies as part of their general plans so that roadways are designed to safely accommodate all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, children, older people, and disabled people, as well as motorists.
S2271 Crosswalks: Introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation: Requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in or waiting to enter crosswalks
S2164 Licensed Fitness Professionals: Introduced and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee: Provides for the licensing of fitness professionals; defines a fitness professional as a personal trainer or group fitness instructor.
Resources & Links…
- U.S. House of Representatives: www.house.gov
- U.S. Senate: www.Senate.gov
- White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
- FirstGov: Official U.S. Government portal to 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions.
- Library of Congress: Provides comprehensive information about Congress including legislation, committees, and Member information. Also provides links to other judicial and administrative branches, as well as to state and local governments.
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): Publishes policy papers in a variety of subject areas under the “Policy Issues” section. NCSL also maintains a listing of all state legislative sites. http://www.ncsl.org or http://www.ncsl.org/public/sitesleg.htm
- National Governor’s Association (NGA): Publishes policy papers on a variety of state issues and legislative information. http://www.nga.org
- National Association of Counties: http://www.naco.org
- National Association of County and City Health Officials: http://www.naccho.org
- National League of Cities: http://www.nlc.org
- International City/County Management Association: http://www.icma.org
- U.S. Conference of Mayors: http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/home.asp
Contact Sheila Franklin at email@example.com with your public affairs news and comments.
NCPPA 1100 H Street, NW Suite 510, Washington, DC 20005 202.454.7521 www.ncppa.org