Anchorage advocates close in on $2.3 million in federal funds for bikes

By Brighid O'Keane on November 13, 2012


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Earlier this month, Anchorage advocates celebrated a major step towards implementation of the region’s bike plan - increasing the budget for funding projects from $1 million to $2.3 million.

The Anchorage Metro Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) is the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). AMATS has been reviewing how it would distribute federal dollars to transportation projects in Anchorage through 2014.

Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage (BCA) saw the proposed budget and noticed that bicycles were largely left out of the equation, despite a bike plan they helped to develop. The plan was unanimously passed by the Anchorage Assembly in 2010, but implementation of it was not widely reflected in the budget.

Over one hundred members and supporters of the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage sent letters to the MPO’s Technical Advisory Committee—the committee that votes on the budget. Thirty-five bicyclists attended a Thursday afternoon meeting of the Committee on November 1.

In letters and in person, community members told their stories, “highlighting that the way (they) spend federal money is important to every day lives; that it can make (them) safer, improve traffic congestion, improve motorist awareness of bicyclists and how to share the road, support healthier lives, create a more livable and desirable city, and support businesses,” said BCA President Brian Litmans.

At the meeting, Committee member Lance Wilber, Director of People Mover (Anchorage’s transit system), proposed that by moving some of the $19 million around, $1.3 million could be shifted to implementation of the bike plan. The other Committee members approved the revised budget.

However, it is not the end. The AMATS Policy Committee must confirm the final budget. Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage will continue to mobilize community support for the budget. If successful, $2.3 federal funds will be used for bicycle infrastructure in Anchorage.

Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage—along with Alaska Trails, Alaska State Parks, and the National Park Service’s Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program—hosted an Advocacy Advance Workshop in May. Participants learned opportunities to tap federal dollars at the local level, and how to craft an advocacy campaign to do so.

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