In Colorado, a Big Legal Victory for Active Transportation Funding

From DC Streets Blog

Believe it or not, in many U.S. states one of the biggest obstacles to active transportation is in the constitution.

Embedded in the constitutions of 22 U.S. states are bans on spending gas tax revenues and/or vehicle registration fees on anything but highways and bridges. That means no matter how much practical value a sidewalk, busway, or bike lane would add, those projects must go begging for funds.

Municipalities throughout the Denver area will soon be able to use gas tax revenues on projects like light rail expansion. Image: Captured Refractions

But thanks to the efforts of a broad coalition in Colorado, the number of states with constitutional restrictions on sustainable transportation spending is about to fall to 21. Governor John Hickenlooper will sign a bill tomorrow that opens up $250 million a year in state gas tax revenue to walking, biking, and transit projects.

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7 Comments

Super and then when there isn

Super and then when there isn't enough funding to take care of the roads because we committed it to a "sustainable" project where are we going to get the money? You guessed it....raise my taxes again. Great plan. I'm all for enhancing the safety of riders and making areas bike friendly but taking funds from a coffer that already doesn't have enough money is not the way to go.

At what point are we going to understand that there is not enough money to go around for all these wonderful things that people want to do? They're great, don't get me wrong, but confiscating more and more money from all of our pocketbooks to fund this stuff has to stop. I am sure as hell not riding light rail from Broomfield all the way to Aurora to work. That would take, most likely 1 - 1.5 hours vs. the 35-45 minutes it takes to drive and I don't have to pay to park at either location.

Yes, let's hear some honest

Yes, let's hear some honest debate about this. There are a lot of things I would love to see done but that doesn't mean this country, state, county, city or it's citizens have the money to do it. It also doesn't mean it is appropriate for me to think that just because I love to ride and race bicycles it is appropriate to raise other people's taxes to pay for it.

Well, for one thing, by

Well, for one thing, by making alternative transportation more convenient, more people will use it. Hopefully, if this happens on a large enough scale, wear-and-tear on roadways will happen slower.

For the record, I'm generally opposed to funding more bike projects. Bikes are vehicles and should use the road. There are plenty of bike paths and dedicated bike streets for people who are nervous about 'taking the lane.'

Looking ahead

Currently your commute takes less time than light rail would, but is that commute likely to 1. decrease, 2. increase, or 3. stay the same. Things always change, so #3 isn't very likely. Mostly likely, it will be #2.

Gas prices, do you expect them to 1. decrease, 2. increase, or 3. stay the same.

When you decide that your commute is too long and expensive, will there be alternatives?

Counterpoints:

Counterpoints:

Raise taxes again?

1. The gas tax we all pay does not begin to cover the cost of our transportation system and has been the same since 1996, which means the amount we pay per mile driven has fallen (gas mileage improvements).

2. When we choose to walk, bicycle or use public transit, we are SAVING tax dollars because we are not putting wear and tear on the roads.

Bicyclists benefiting motorists
3. ALL the money in the coffers could not pay for the transportation system you are asking for . . . we are all subsidizing the funding of transportation (and then more stuff, too, but that's for another time). And bikes have 1/1000 of the impact on transportation wear and tear.

4. Every time I bicycle that is one less car in the commute congestion. The most cost effective method to reduction traffic congestion is to get the driver in front of you out of his car and onto a bike! We need safe places to ride to accomplish that.

Broomfield to Aurora commute

5. You have the freedom to live where you want and work where you want, and I support your freedom. Please support our freedom of choice to have safe places to travel whether we choose our car, bike, feet or train/bus! My wife and I choose to live where I can bike or use the bus/train to get to work.