Congress Passes Infrastructure Bill Making a Historic Investment in Safe Routes to School, Walking, and Bicycling

On Capitol Hill, the Safe Routes Partnership and the League of American Bicyclists have been pushing for changes in the federal transportation bill that will help states and communities build healthier, safer, and more affordable transportation options—particularly in the communities that most need them. These legislative outcomes are based on more than two years of advocacy on Capitol Hill to shape a transformative transportation bill. We are grateful to advocates, practitioners, and agency staff for informing and advocating for the changes to the Transportation Alternatives Program and Highway Safety Improvement Programs that our organizations lobbied for and were included in this bill. To learn more about the details of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, read our blog post from August 2021.

On November 5, 2021, the House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The Senate passed the bill in August, which means it now advances to President Biden to sign into law. Colloquially referred to as “the infrastructure bill”, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 is a monumental investment in the safety and support of people walking and bicycling. This bill includes historic funding levels and significant policy changes to make investments in connected streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and Safe Routes to School, and to make those funding decisions more equitable by prioritizing neighborhoods and communities made vulnerable by historical and contemporary policy and funding decisions.

The Safe Routes Partnership and the League of American Bicyclists worked closely together on improving the Transportation Alternatives Program and bicycle and pedestrian safety in the Highway Safety Improvement Program and are pleased to see meaningful investments and policy changes included. We are grateful to our legislative champions, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee and Representatives Espaillat (NY-13), Larsen (WA-2), Brown (MD-4), Brownley (CA-26), and DeFazio (OR-4), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 is historic not only because of the funding levels, but because it requires states to prioritize communities where there has been chronic underinvestment and disconnect from decision making. This bill aims to make a difference in transportation equity across the country, and the Safe Routes Partnership is committed to supporting its equitable implementation to grow Safe Routes to Schools, to parks, to healthy food, to healthcare, and to other everyday destinations for all ages, races, and abilities,” said Cassandra Isidro, executive director of Safe Routes Partnership.

While we celebrate this legislative victory, there is still more we can do to improve safe, equitable, connected walking and biking. We encourage you to call on your members of Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act, also being referred to as “the reconciliation bill”. Included in this bill are two programs of note for advocates for Safe Routes to School, walking, and bicycling:

  • Community Climate Incentive Grants, which will provide grants to reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions
  • Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants, which will provide funding to support neighborhood equity, safety, and affordable transportation access. 

As an organization dedicated to improving not only safe walking and bicycling, but also the health and well-being of people and healthy, thriving communities, we are committed to continuing to advocate for the Build Back Better Act, which invests in the “human infrastructure” to improve the health and safety of people and our planet. We are passionate about the physical infrastructure and education that support people to walk, bike, and move safely throughout their communities, and as an organization committed to healthy, thriving communities, we know that the people of this country are long overdue for an investment in the supportive systems that enable us all to prosper.