Lawmakers seek funding for bikeshare programs

Lawmakers seek funding for bikeshare programs
© Ryan McVay

A group of congressional cyclists is looking to get federal funding to build bikeshare programs across the country.

The Bikeshare Transit Act introduced Thursday would pave the way for communities to invest in cycling as another form of transportation, along with cars, buses, and commuter trains.

This would promote a healthier and more environmentally friendly form of travel, say Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerLive coverage: Day two of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup GAO disputes that IRS had to award .25M contract to Equifax Congress should stand with the majority of Americans and support Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment MORE (D-Ore.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), the two lawmakers behind the bipartisan legislation.

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“America is in the middle of a bikeshare revolution,” Blumenauer said. "Removing barriers faced by new and existing bikeshare programs is important to providing choice and adding value to our existing transportation network.”

Blumenauer is an avid cyclist, and heads the Congressional Bike Caucus along with Buchanan.

Cycling as a form of transportation is growing in popularity. There are some 80 bikeshare programs around the country and more than 10 million people participated last year, according to Blumenauer. 

But cyclists struggle for recognition, Blumenauer pointed out. Cities often have trouble securing funds for bikeshare projects, with federal dollars earmarked for more traditional forms of transportation like roads and bridges.

Blumenauer called it a “grey area” of federal funding.

This legislation would make it clear that cities are allowed to use the money to support bikeshare programs, though they would not be required to implement them. Not only would cities be allowed to draw from federal transportation funds, they could also participate in the Federal Highway Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

“Bikeshare programs help people stay active, promote a clean environment and are good for the economy,” Buchanan said.