Posts Tagged ‘state legislation’

Legislation would eliminate 1% bike/walk funding

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

A group of bills were introduced in Lansing earlier this year that change how Michigan generates and distributes road funding.

These bills as written have many opponents. Bicyclists, pedestrians, trail users, and Complete Street supporters should be among them.

Here are three reasons.

Eliminates bike funding requirement

First, House Bill 5300 would transfer funding from the current Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) to the Commercial Corridor Fund (CCF) over an 8 year period. The MTF and CCF distribute funds to counties, cities, and villages. The MTF requires 1% of the funding to be spent on non-motorized facilities like bike lanes and sidewalks. The CCF has no such requirement.

So rather than remove the 1% requirement in law, legislators are simply creating a new fund without the requirement and shifting the money. We’re not sure how intentional this change was, but it has been a long standing goal of the County Road Association of Michigan to remove this requirement.

Increases funding for sprawl

The current road funding is generally distributed based on the miles of roads. House Bill 5303 would change that to distribute funding based on motor vehicle miles traveled or VMT.

Counties and cities that require people to drive more and longer distances will be rewarded. There will be a financial disincentive for counties and cities to promote public transit, biking and walking as they’ll receive less money.

Forecasts from MDOT show the city of Detroit would see some devastating funding cuts as a result. Even if the fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees are raised significantly, the City will still lose 8% of their road funding. And since those tax and fee increases may not even occur, the loss will be even greater. The City has already testified against this change.

Ironically enough, the bill’s sponsor is former City Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi.

Promotes speeding

Granted this is the weaker of the three sins, but it deserves a mention for its sheer stupidity.

House Bills 5301 and 5302 require counties, cities, and villages to time traffic lights but not for the speed limit. On a road that has enough speeding cars, this legislation requires road agencies to time the traffic lights for them, which will likely induce more speeding.

We’ve already heard of MDOT doing this on a local state trunkline. Now this practice will be enshrined in law.

Recommended action

We recommend you contact your state representative and state senator to let them know you oppose removing the 1% requirement and oppose distributing road funds according to vehicle miles traveled.

These bills have been out for more than a couple months now. We can’t afford to keep sitting on the sidelines.

With ever rising fuel prices and increasing public interest in Complete Streets, it is unacceptable that we change road funding that takes us back to the 1970s mind set.

State Rep. Santana’s support for biking

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

The Michigan House recently passed a resolution recognizing May as Bike Month in Michigan. The resolution was introduced by its primary sponsor Representative Harvey Santana from Detroit’s Tenth district.

“I’m proud that the House passed this resolution to help me encourage others to discover the love of biking that I share with countless cyclists in our great state,” Santana said. “Biking to work is an efficient and fun way to get the exercise you need without having to find extra time to work out, as well as a great way to get around town. And this year, with gasoline prices as high as they are, biking to work makes more sense than ever.”

Santana added that while many people think of country roads as a great place to bike, he looks at his own west side Detroit neighborhood as the perfect spot to enjoy a few miles of biking.

“The Tenth District is a perfect place to enjoy biking with Rouge Park being a major part of the district,” he said. “It contains many miles of paved and unpaved trails that residents can safely enjoy. Spring has sprung and the warm weather beckons all of us to get outdoors and enjoy it.”

I’ve known Harvey for many years and worked with him on the Rouge Park hike/bike trails. He was a prolific volunteer and a mountain bike racer.

When Harvey was elected, he asked what legislation could be passed to improve biking in Michigan. I suggested changing making right-hand turn signaling legal for bicyclists. As we’ve mentioned before, the current left-hand in the air sign looks like a wave and is certainly ineffective. We shouldn’t be educating cyclists to use something that few on the road understand. State law should support cyclists using common sense hand signals.

Besides, this change in state law will give a boost to Michigan’s rankings in the Bicycle Friendly States list.

Below is the Michigan Bike Month resolution, which contains some interesting facts about bicycling in Michigan.


Natural Resources Trust Fund: applauded and attacked

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave a state of the state address tonight that touched on issues related to biking in Michigan, including this:

“I urge the prompt passage of a capital outlay bill that implements the recommendations of the Natural Resources Trust Fund. From the greatness of the land and the resourcefulness of the citizens of the Upper Peninsula to the unquestioned beauty and economic engine as our Great Lakes, natural resources and recreation have always been among our strongest areas. The Fund’s board of trustees has recommended 117 recreation and land acquisition projects totaling more than $100 million. These projects will positively impact every corner of our state from Iron County in the Upper Peninsula to Traverse City to Luna Pier in Monroe County. Also included is a significant expansion of the William G. Milliken Park on the Detroit Riverfront.”

That is excellent to hear and very welcomed. And it was good to see the bipartisan standing ovation it received.

However, it was just last Thursday when West Michigan legislators introduced bills (HB 4021HB 4028HJR B) that would raid the Natural Resources Trust Fund. It would divert upwards of 80% of its annual revenues. Twenty percent of the diverted funds would go towards the State Aeronautics Fund while the remainder would go to the Michigan Transportation Fund.

The intent of this Trust Fund is to take revenues from irreplaceable natural resources extracted from public lands and make longterm investments in new public lands and parks. This proposed Trust Fund raid would put most of the money into airports and road projects.

Having a deja vu? Yes, these same bills were introduced in the last session. They died in committee. It’s difficult to say if these bills will move further along given the new Republican control of the House.

Other items in the state of the state

The Governor said the state should reward municipalities that consolidate and share services. Does this mean they would provide incentives for counties governments to absorb their road commissions? Not sure.

It was great to hear the Governor promote wellness.

“We will look to build a system that encourages all of us to have an annual physical, reduce obesity and encourage a healthier, active lifestyle in our state”

As someone noted on Twitter, Complete Streets would help.

And lastly Snyder  threw his support behind the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC). The DRIC’s current plans are to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. This could be one option for getting between Canada and the U.S.

Canada wants this new bridge so badly that they’ve agreed to cover Michigan’s capital investment. Canada’s loan would be paid back through bridge tolls.

The big news is the Federal Highway Administration has agreed to count this loan as Michigan’s match for federal transportation dollars. Without match dollars, the state could lose millions in road funding. This appears to be a huge win which removes some pressure to find transportation money in other places.

Like the Trust Fund.

Michigan Complete Streets passes the Senate!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Complete Streets in Michigan took another huge step forward today.

According to John Lindemeyer from the League of Michigan Bicyclists:

HB 6152 passed out of the Senate unanimously while 6151 was passed unanimously after an amendment was introduced upon the request of MDOT. Later in the day the House then took up HB 6151 again for a vote of concurrence where it passed by a margin of 76 to 21.

In summary, House Bill 6151 would require MDOT to have a Complete Streets policy and would encourage other Michigan road agencies to do the same. House Bill 6152 would make non-motorized planning a required part of each municipality’s master plan.

The MDOT amendment John mentioned above does not sound unreasonable nor does it seem to affect the main intent of this legislation.

A huge thanks to everyone who contacted their state legislator and helped keep this moving in Lansing.

Complete Street moving forward across Michigan

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

From Lansing

We’ve just learned that the Senate Transportation Committee has unanimously passed House Bill 6151 for Complete Streets.

They did not vote on its companion, House Bill 6152. According to the League of Michigan Bicyclists, “It sounds like they simply forgot that there were dealing with a package of bills vs. just one. Charmian Gilbert said they will simply discharge the second bill to the Senate floor vs. having another hearing.”

This is great news. 6151 is headed to the Senator Floor and 6152 shouldn’t be too far behind.

Now is the time to contact your Michigan Senator and ask that they support Complete Streets and these two bills.

From Detroit

The city of Detroit Complete Streets workgroup continues to make progress towards a Complete Streets ordinance. There is now a Complete Streets page on the city’s web site where anyone can voice their support for this effort.

From Ferndale

Work is underway in Ferndale on a Complete Streets effort. We’ll share more information as it becomes available.