How Could Michigan's Proposition 1 Impact Walking and Biking?

Posted 04/08/15 by Leeann Sinpatanasakul in Policy

Saginaw Valley Rail Trail in Michigan | Photo courtesy Bubba Miller | CC by 2.0

If you live in Michigan, chances are you’ve heard about Proposition 1, a transportation funding proposal that will be on the ballot on May 5. You may also know the reason why the investment from this proposal is necessary. The state’s roads are not just bad but outright dangerous.

If passed, Proposition 1 would provide critical funding to rebuild and repair Michigan’s roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. It would do this without cutting funding for schools and local municipalities, as previous plans proposed. Detailed information about this complicated proposal is available from the Michigan Environmental Council and the Detroit Free Press.

So what does this proposal have to do with trails, and why should you vote yes for it?

What Proposition 1 Means for Trails

While much of the funding in Proposition 1 goes toward repairing Michigan’s roads, a small portion would be dedicated to other modes of transportation, including walking and biking. Even this small amount of funds could support big bike/ped opportunities in Michigan.

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Simply put, when state funding for transportation increases, funding for trails, walking and biking increases. A Michigan law enacted in 1951 (Public Act 51) specifies certain ways that revenue in the state’s transportation fund is spent. The law ensures that transportation funding not only goes to roads, but also to mass transit and to walking and biking. It specifies that 1 percent of the funds are dedicated to active-transportation facilities such as trails, and walking and biking networks.

If Proposition 1 passes, $13 million in additional funding per year will be dedicated to building and maintaining places to walk and bike. Proposition 1 would make driving safer by repairing roads and bridges, but it would also make walking and biking safer by dedicating a small portion to building and maintaining infrastructure like sidewalks, bike lanes and trails. Additionally, $20 million per year would be dedicated to recreational facilities, which could include trails.

Best Chance to Fund Transportation

Proposition 1 is not a perfect plan; it is complicated, and there are as many opinions on it as there are people. However, it’s important to note that Proposition 1 will not only fund transportation improvements, it will continue funding for schools, local police and fire services that would have otherwise been cut to pay for transportation improvements. Importantly, it will place transportation and school funding in “lock boxes” to prevent legislators from playing shell games with future revenue.

Vote Yes on Proposition 1

If passed, Proposition 1 would invest critical funding in Michigan’s transportation infrastructure to repair roads and bridges and keep public transit running. As per law, it would also invest $13 million by 2017 in building and maintaining places to walk and bike.

Now, it is up to the voters to fund transportation in Michigan.

If you are a Michigan resident, you can help ensure the passing of Proposition 1 by pledging to vote YES on May 5 and by sharing this post with your family and friends. The vote is in May, when voter turnout is likely to be low, so every vote counts.

Can we count on you to help? Share this blog and our e-card (like the one above) with others, and then head to the polls on Election Day!

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