In remarks before the House Transportation Committee on January 27, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter outlined the administration's bike/ped plans for Fiscal Year 2012 which begins July 1. Deputy Secretary Minter stated that: "This administration is committed to accommodating needs of bicyclists and pedestrians." This is good news, indeed, and it's news that the bike/ped community in Vermont has waited a very long time to hear.
The following are some of the highlights the Deputy Secretary shared:
The state's FY 2012 bike/ped budget is up 2 percent over FY 2011. In these extremely difficult economic times, this is an indication that the Shumlin administration is acknowledging that bike/ped hasn't received the attention it deserves. (A list of which bike/ped projects are scheduled for construction in FY 2012 is available from VTrans. Please let me know if you are interested in these details.)
In FY 2012, the state will increase bike parking at park and ride facilities, public buildings, downtown areas, and at strategic public transit locations. (At the urging of the VBPC, Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, is drafting legislation that will increase the availability of bike parking at state buildings. Rep. Lorber serves on the House Institutions Committee. It's gratifying that members of both the administration and the legislature will be addressing this issue. The VBPC also had discussed the need for improvements in this area with Rep. Mary Hooper (D-Montpelier) and Joan Lenes (D-Shelburne). Both serve on the House Institutions Committee.)
Local bike/ped safety education programs will be funded in FY 2012. No details yet as to the dollars available or the application process.
Although the state will re-open the bike/ped program that allows municipalities to apply for funding for bike/ped infrastructure, there will be some research before the door is flung wide open. The plan is to devote FY 2012 to assessing current needs. Part of this process will be an analysis of crash data. Members of the bike/ped community will be included in the conversation and invited to provide input. The VBPC welcomes this openness on the part of the Shumlin administration and we look forward to hearing specifics regarding when these discussions will begin. In FY 2013, the state will undertake a cost/benefit analysis to determine which bike/ped projects make the most sense to advance.
Jon Kaplan, the state's Bike/Ped Program Manager, announced that the first public meeting on the Bike/Ped Economic Study will be held February 16. VTrans has commissioned a study to determine the number of dollars that bicycling and walking generate in the Vermont economy. Public input into this process is welcome.
The VBPC will report updates on the above as info becomes available. Thanks for your support of the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition.