The Pennsylvania legislature approved a measure last week that establishes a fund to provide an annual appropriation of $144 million for multi-modal initiatives such as walking and bicycling projects.
It’s a significant development for the Keystone State, as the new fund now makes bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as bike lanes and sidewalks, an official part of the comprehensive transportation system. Additionally, there will be a first-ever state appropriation of $2 million for walking and bicycling initiatives, making it easier to use state transportation funds for pedestrian safety projects.
Advocates from several organizations worked together to push the measure through, including the American Heart Association, Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition and Walk and Ride PA. Coalition members also included the highway construction industry, public transit agencies, labor unions, farm organizations, the AARP, AAA, local governments, chambers of commerce, environmental advocates, travel and tourism organizations, freight and passenger rail organizations and truck freight haulers.
While the legislation is a major victory for bike and pedestrian projects, advocates still have a lot of work to do. “The legislation is a strong move forward for Pennsylvania. Voices for Healthy Kids advocates will continue to work to ensure appropriated dollars are spent on initiatives that truly improve the ease of walking and bicycling in communities,” says Jill Birnbaum, executive director of the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, which took part in the advocacy effort.
The Pennsylvania legislation comes on the heels of another success in California that boosted state funding for projects that improve walking, biking and Safe Routes to School by 35 percent. That legislation, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, also created a comprehensive Active Transportation Program.
Other states working on adding funds to support walkability include Colorado and Delaware.