Councilmember Graham.

Please welcome Adam Voiland, the newest member of GGW’s contributor team. Adam also writes the DC Bicycle Transportation Examiner blog.

Mayor Adrian Fenty has proposed setting aside $1.5 million for a bicycle and pedestrian safety fund for fiscal year 2010, Chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee Jim Graham announced with unabashed satisfaction at a recent oversight hearing.

If approved, the funds could be used for traffic calming, sidewalk construction, intersection improvement, encouraging safe routes to schools, upgrading lighting, and purchasing equipment used to enforce traffic laws. 

Last year, the money set aside for a similar safety fund, which Graham pushed hard to secure, was axed late in the budget process as the Council struggled with shortfalls.

Graham, of course, vows to support the new proposal enthusiastically. “I was extremely disappointed when this money was cut [last year],” he said. “Pedestrian and bicycle safety has to be among our highest priorities.”

Graham was quick to point out, however, that the funding won’t necessarily survive the budget process this time around. That’s especially likely if the Council removes controversial revenue raising proposals, such as a plan to collect a streetlight user fee, from the final budget. “The mayor has put together a jigsaw puzzle that produces a balanced budget.  If you take one of those pieces out it creates a hole that has to be filled,” he said.

To protect the funds, he urged representatives of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), who were at the meeting requesting $10,000 in operating funds for 2010, to work with cycling advocates to rally support for the fund. “There are a lot of cyclists who are very passionate about these issues. I think we need to alert them as to the essential need for them to show visible support for this,” he said. “There is going to be an awful lot of pressure on the budget.”