By Charles Pekow – Ideas are beginning to come in for reauthorization of federal surface transportation law. The current statute, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act technically expires at the end of Fiscal Year 2020. But if history is a guide, current law may wind up getting temporarily extended a year or two.
But sometimes small pieces of legislation get put in the hopper to give Congress something to think about and perhaps fold into the major reauthorization. The latest idea that could affect bicycle safety is called the Safe And Friendly for the Environment Streets Act or the SAFE Streets Act (H.R. 3040) introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) with two cosponsors (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3040/text).
The bill would not add any safety money but would alter the formula to direct more federal funding to areas with high levels of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities. (The legislation uses the term “vulnerable users;” which also includes those riding scooters, e-bikes, wheelchairs, etc. For every planning area with a bike and pedestrian fatality rate of at least 1.5 per 100,000 residents, states and metropolitan planning organizations receiving Highway Safety Improvement Grants would get a guaranteed share of the money.
The bill doesn't specify that the grantees would have to use the money for cycling safety, though. It was referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.