History of Federal Funding Legislation

Prior to 1992

Prior to 1992, only a few million dollars a year of federal funds were being invested in bicycle or pedestrian facilities. While the energy crisis in 1973 and 1979 spawned new interest in bicycle planning, very little money from government or non-government sources was invested in bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Throughout the 1970's and 1980's the largest amounts of funds for bicycling and walking were invested by state and local parks agencies building multi-use trails; levels of investment were very small compared to what they are today.

1992 to Present

Starting in 1992 with the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), hundreds of millions of dollars became available for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, planning, safety, and promotion programs. Over $200 million a year is being spent from federal transportation funds, primarily on capital development projects. Federal and state requirements for cost-sharing have brought state agencies, local governments, non-profit groups and private foundations fully into the funding stream. Growth in public funding at all levels of government has been tremendous since 1992. Park departments, health departments, land management agencies, schools, and law enforcement agencies are spending funds on bicycle and pedestrian-related activities. Foundations and other not-for-profit organizations are increasingly putting their resources into bicycle and pedestrian safety and promotion activities.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) is the successor to TEA-21, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998), which was the successor to ISTEA. ISTEA is now viewed as the federal Act that initiated a major policy shift in federal funding priorities making federal funds much more accessible for state and local bicycling and walking facilities and programs. SAFETEA-LU continues and strengthens this new emphasis on improving conditions for bicycling and walking.