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By now I’m sure you’ve all heard that Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – IIJA) on November 5th. Thanks to the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), the Safe Routes Partnership, and others it includes unprecedented levels of funding for active transportation and the safety of vulnerable road users, and it represents an important step towards building more livable communities. The blog posted by Caron Whitaker, LAB’s Deputy Director, on Monday the 8th is the source of much of the information in this post. You can learn more by joining her federal policy update webinar on Friday, Nov. 19, at 3 pm ET. Register here »

Most of the media coverage and news releases have focused on what the IIJA does for roads and bridges, high-speed internet, clean drinking water, airports, EV charging, and does and does not do for public transportation and climate change. Transportation for America issued this statement, also on the 8th:  “As we have stated before, the transportation portion of the infrastructure bill spends a lot of money but fails to target it to the needs of the day: building strong economic centers, providing equitable access to opportunity, addressing catastrophic climate change, improving safety, or repairing infrastructure in poor condition.” Other transit and environmental organizations have issued similar statements. People for Bikes is less critical stating: “The IIJA must be matched with the BBB (Build Back Better), which holds billions of dollars more for equity, climate resiliency, and tax incentives for electric bicycles and bike commuting.” 

So what exactly did happen related to biking and walking? Every five years Congress must reauthorize the federal investment in transportation. The IIJA does that and includes a huge one-time investment on top of that. In addition to more infrastructure and program funding, the League, Safe Routes Partnership, and others, with support from local and state advocacy groups like BikeMN, fought for policies that ensure those funds are used to improve the safety of vulnerable road users, are spent equitably, and promote Complete Streets, a Safe System approach, and other frameworks for a transportation system that works for everyone. The result was significant improvements in the Transportation Alternatives Program, adding new bicycle and pedestrian safety provisions to the Highway Safety Improvement Program that, in Minnesota, is managed by the Department of Public Safety, and the first-ever requirements for states to address bicycling and walking safety and write complete streets policies and plans. The bill also includes funding for “Reconnecting Communities,”  a program that addresses historical inequities in transportation, as well as requires stronger public participation in grant applications, with a focus on social equity and environmental justice.

Here is a snapshot of the League’s priorities (from Caron’s blog post) that are in the IIJA: 


  • More than 60% increase in Transportation Alternatives funding
  • Limits on when and how much a state can transfer to other programs (like roads and bridges)
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations (Twin Cities Metro, Duluth-Superior, Rochester, LaCrescent-LaCrosse, Fargo-Moorhead, Grand Forks-EGF, St. Cloud, Mankato) get a larger share of funding and obligation authority, meaning they can sign checks and get projects moving (before they had to wait for the state)
  • State flexibility on the local match so states can use safety funds as local match or meet 80/20 requirements through grouping projects


  • Requires every state (Department of Public Safety in MN) to do a Vulnerable Road User Safety Assessment looking at road classification, speed, demographics of surrounding area, etc. 
  • Requires states where 15% or more of roadway fatalities are vulnerable road users to spend 15% or more of Highway Safety Improvement Plan funds on vulnerable road user safety (to be determined officially but in 2019 it was 16% in MN)
  • Requires FHWA to research best practices that both promote biking and walking and make biking and walking safer, including on arterial roads


  • Sets aside State and MPO planning to create Complete Streets policy, standards, and plans (MN has a good start on this)
  • Funds can also be used for all kinds of Active Transportation plans and/or plans that reduce single occupancy vehicle travel


  • Pilot project to get better accessibility data to states and MPOs with the goal of improving connectivity


  • Two new programs focused on resiliency and promoting lower GHG emissions


  • The bill updates the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include a rating on ability to avoid crashes with Vulnerable Roads Users
  • New headlight standards will require incorporating new technologies that should help reduce fatalities in the dusk and dark, and other updates include the crashworthiness of hoods and bumpers

CHANGES TO 402 (Section 402 supports State highway safety programs, designed to reduce traffic crashes and resulting deaths, injuries, and property damage) AND 405 (additional programs to address national priorities for reducing highway deaths and injuries) PROGRAMS

  • Allows for funds to be spent on demonstration projects and educating law enforcement and the public on the benefits of infrastructure in traffic safety
  • Requires revisions of performance measures for 402 to more directly include vulnerable users


  • $1.5 billion per year in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants (formerly known as BUILD and TIGER)
  • Help for MPOs to understand how Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) projects affect low income communities (BikeMN’s new Metro Area Adult Learn to Ride program is funded with CMAQ)
  • A study on the role biking and walking can play in disaster relief
  • A pilot project to deliver project prioritization criteria
  • A study on whether CMAQ projects actually reduce GHG

BikeMN looks forward to working with the League, Safe Routes Partnership, and other local, state, and national advocates to ensure that the implementation of the new and reauthorized funding and policies maximize the benefits to people who bike and walk. BikeMN will be there to ensure that MnDOT, DPS, and the MPO’s are making investments in infrastructure and programs that will make biking and walking easier and safer and that reinvestments are made in communities hurt by transportation decisions of the past and biking and walking are big parts of investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will also continue to work with our national partners to ensure that tax incentives, like the Bicycle Commuter Benefit, and the e-bike tax rebate in the Build Back Better Reconciliation plan, and other investments in greenhouse gas emissions are also included. I would encourage you to let your members of Congress know that you too support these things.

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