Sen. Tom Carper rode a bicycle and joined local leaders Sept. 27 at two stops to highlight how America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, a major bipartisan surface transportation infrastructure bill co-authored by Carper, will help connect communities through pedestrian paths and bike trails while making multi-modal transportation safer and more accessible.
After touting the bill with local leaders, Carper biked along the Jack Markell Trail to see where the proposed bike trail to Newport would connect. After the ride, Carper toured a potential bike lane project that would better connect the Delaware Riverfront with downtown Wilmington. Both projects toured would be eligible for funding made possible by ATIA. At the Jack Markell Trail, Carper was joined by New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer; Newport Mayor Michael Spencer; James Wilson, director of Bike Delaware; and State Sen. Elizabeth Lockman.
“Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities continue to be more frequent throughout the country, rising to troubling levels in recent years,” said Carper. “This problem has been particularly severe in Delaware, which in 2015 had the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the nation. The First State is making progress, but as we work to reauthorize the federal programs that help build and maintain our surface infrastructure, we must do more to make sure roadways are safer for all users, not just motorists. Safer passageways for cyclists and pedestrians, like the Wilmington proposals I toured today, boost safety for all those using our roads, cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote active lifestyles. I’m proud that the bill I co-authored, the most significant highway bill in history, includes billions in new investments in these alternative forms of transportation — which will help Americans breathe easier and reduce the dangers associated with traversing our nation’s roadways.”
More than 37,000 individuals die on American roadways every year. Of these, nearly 20% are pedestrians and bicyclists. While fatalities of individuals inside a vehicle have declined overall in the last twenty years, fatalities of those outside of vehicles, such as bicyclists and pedestrians, have increased steadily. Pedestrian fatalities in urban areas have increased by 46% since 2008 and bicyclist fatalities in urban areas have increased 13% in the same time.
In response to this serious and growing problem, ATIA increases funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, investing $6.2 billion nationally and $27.6 million in Delaware over five years through the Transportation Alternatives Program, and providing an additional $2.5 billion for safety improvements in cities and states with high non-motorist fatalities. These programs seek to incentivize data-driven safety solutions at the local level and to dedicate funding for safe walking and biking routes.
The EPW Committee voted unanimously to advance ATIA on July 30.
In September, Carper toured several flood-prone Delaware roadways to highlight ATIA’s $10 billion investment in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the resiliency of roadways to extreme weather.