New Federal Rule May Help Bike Infrastructure

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By Charles Pekow

It's official: improvements to bicycle infrastructure within three miles of a train station or bus depot can get federal as part of a public transportation project. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that radius in its new rules governing Eligibility of Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements Under Federal Transit Law.

FTA announced the final rule in August, a year after proposing the idea and receiving public comment. Most commentators favored the proposed three-mile radius.

The rules will allow funding for bike parking, bike lanes, signals, bike racks for buses and trains, and related bike infrastructure in a variety of federal grant programs, including some bicycle advocates may not be familiar with – so the rule could be a new impetus for using federal money to improve bicycle infrastructure, at least as it coordinates with public transit. While bike facilities within the radius are automatically eligible, ones further away can be if the grant proposal shows they will help people get to and from public transit.

Affected programs include the following:

Urbanized Area Formula Program

New Starts and Small Starts Major Capital Investment Programs

Fixed Guideway Modernization Program

Bus and Bus Facilities Discretionary Program

Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Program

Non-Urbanized Area Formula Program

Public Transportation on Indian Reservations

Job Access and Reverse Commute Formula Program

New Freedom Program

Paul S. Sarbanes Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands.

Note: the rules allow use of federal funds for infrastructure for bike-sharing programs but federal law prohibits buying bicycles for it.

For details, see the August 19 Federal Register.

Editor's Note: Projects that might benefit from the new rule include the PRATT Trail and improvements at the Intermodal Hub in downtown Salt Lake City.

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Charles Pekow is an award-winning Washington correspondent who has written about bicycling for years in publications such as the Washington Post, Bicycle Times, Dirt Rag, SPOKES, etc. as well as Cycling West/Cycling Utah. He also writes frequently on environmental issues and beer, among other topics. Weather permitting, you'll find him most weekends and some summer evenings astride a bicycle in a park. He is also a charter member of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

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