With Rapid Response Grant, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Champions Biking and Walking

By Mary Lauran Hall on January 16, 2013


Advocacy Advance, the collaborative advocacy team composed of staff from the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, recently awarded a series of Rapid Response Grants. These quick-turnaround grants help state and local advocacy organizations take advantage of unexpected opportunities to win, increase, or preserve funding for biking and walking.

In this series of blog posts, we talk with recipients of the grants about their advocacy campaigns.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia faces a giant opportunity to boost Pennsylvania’s support for biking and walking in the state transportation system.

imageImpending legislation to fund transportation has been a major topic of conversation in Pennsylvania for the past three years. The nonprofit Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition submitted a series of recommendations for funding transportation to PA governor Tom Corbett in 2010, and the governor’s own transportation funding advisory committee released its PennDOT-sanctioned report in 2011. After two rounds of recommendations, Governor Corbett has finally suggested that he will tackle a new state transportation law in 2013.

“Our governor has signaled that transportation will be one of the three things he’ll focus on this budget season,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, policy director at the Bicycle Coalition.

Now that the time looks ripe for a new law, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia plans to act quickly. As a member of the nonprofit Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition — a group representing a wide range of stakeholders including manufacturers, engineers, health groups, and transportation stakeholders — the Bicycle Coalition is working to educate state legislators on Pennsylvania’s transport needs — including biking and walking, of course.

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Transportation options abound along the Schuylkill river near Philadelphia.

“Members of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition have been fanning out and meeting with every state representative and senator,” said Sarah. “Even though there’s nothing yet to examine, the effort is to make the case in these individual meetings that now is the time to tackle transportation funding.”

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imageThe Bicycle Coalition, in conjunction with Pennsylvania advocates such as PA Walks & Bikes, will encourage state officials to incorporate biking and walking into a new law. The Bicycle Coalition’s legislative goals for the 2013 bill include increased dedicated state funding for biking and walking grants and projects, a Bicycle & Pedestrian office within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and language to tie state safety fund allocation to fatality rates by mode.

“We’re trying to build up support across party lines and see what we can do to make sure that biking and walking are incorporated into this legislation,” Sarah said.

Working within the Keystone Coalition has also helped the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia form more robust connections with other groups throughout the state.

“We’re building up relationships with organizations we normally haven’t had relationships with” explained Sarah. “Members of the biking and walking community feel that it is important to be at the table, and we’re trying to make the case that biking and walking should be addressed more comprehensively.”

Sarah noted that this campaign also provides a chance to educate state officials on biking and walking issues. “We’ve been using this as an opportunity to build a relationship with Penn DOT. We hope to be able to work with PennDOT on transportation policies down the line.”

Advocacy Advance’s Rapid Response Grant proved useful to support staff time, finance printed materials for state legislators, and pay for travel to district office and to Harrisburg, the state capital.

“That’s a huge help,” said Sarah.

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