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Bicyclists In D.C. To Lobby For Safety

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Bicyclists head to Washington D.C. to fight for wider lanes and better data.
Katie Harbath: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katieharbath/3733299538/
Bicyclists head to Washington D.C. to fight for wider lanes and better data.

Bicyling advocates from across the country descended on Washington to lobby Congress about safety.

The bicyling advocates want more federal funding for infrastructure such as bike lanes and for Congress to require state departments of transportation to establish statistical goals to reduce the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed and injured on our streets.  

Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, says that without this data, states won't be able to measure progress on making streets safer.

"While there may be a broad safety target set for the number of lives that are lost on the roads, there isn't a specific one for bicyclists, for pedestrians, and we feel it's a big enough issue that there should be a specific target," said Clarke.

Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities have increased from 12 percent of all roadway deaths in 2008 to almost 16 percent in 2011, according to the federal government's fatality analysis reporting system.

"The numbers have been going up slightly for those two means of travel," Clarke says. "They've been going down for people who are in cars and are belted and buckled up and the rest of it. We want to see a similar level of attention paid to crashes that are happening involving bicyclists, involving pedestrians, even motorcyclists."

Anthony Siracusa advocated for a $15 million grant to build a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi in his hometown of Memphis. He says when lawmakers see how bicycling makes cities more livable, they are more open to spending money on the infrastructure.

"It's one thing to talk about it across a board room table," said Siracusa. "It's another thing for them to actually experience it and for them to also see the number of stakeholders who come together around these projects and the relatively small investment it takes to make a profound difference in the community."

Siracusa wanted to meet both Tennessee senators on Capitol Hill, but only met their staffers. He says they were open to his message.

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