Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Funding Bicycle Facilities in MN

The largest sole contributor to bicycle facility funding is federal sources, though federal funding of bicycle infrastructure is fairly new.  It wasn't until 1991 that bicycle infrastructure projects were eligible for federal funding with the adoption of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) that bicycles were recognized as an integral part of many transportation networks.  Several transportation funding plans have been adopted since 1991, with each defining and funding bicycle infrastructure slightly differently.

For projects that receive funding from federal transportation sources, state or local agencies are expected to provide 20 percent of the projects approved costs.  However, the available amount is limited and there are usually too many projects to be funded primarily by federal sources.

For projects that are not able to receive funding from federal sources, there is a variety of possible funding sources including state and local as well as private sources.   The Twin Cities has used multiple sources to build a bicycle transportation and recreation network which added over 30 miles of bicycle-specific infrastructure between 2000 and 2009.  The City of Minneapolis has identified opportunities to expand the current network and is hoping for $284 million dollars to fund this network expansion, accounting for $2.6 million dollars per year until 2040.  In the past, Minneapolis has used a variety of funding sources to build the existing bicycle infrastructure but has encountered numerous obstacles beginning in 2009 with state cuts in Local Government Aid (LGA).

Most recently, infrastructure planning has emphasized the need for "8-80" bicycle infrastructure, which is infrastructure that anyone from 8 to 80 years old can feel comfortable and safe on while riding.  Many bike-friendly and bike-progressive cities have viewed the realization of this principle as protected intersections and bikeways.  But who funds these projects?  Unfortunately, there is neither enough funds to pay for all of the proposed bicycle improvements, just as their is not enough money to pay for all of the roadway improvements.  But in a funding world where safety for vehicles is prioritized over safety for cyclists, what gives?

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