Walking and Bicycling Funding Sources

Aug 21, 2013

Funding Sources

Potential Funding Sources for Northeastern Illinois

This document is a compilation of fund sources for projects and programs intended to improve walking and bicycling conditions and to increase the safety of travel by these and other modes. Strategies to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility can include:

  1. Infrastructure improvements,
  2. Enforcement measures, policies, and recommendations
  3. Education and marketing efforts

Within the State of Illinois, a number of grants are available through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Money is available to IDOT through federal funds in order to reduce motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle crashes, fatalities, and injuries, and to increase safety for all users of our roadways.

Important Note: At present, details and guidance for Illinois' implementation and administration funding programs created under the federal transportation bill, MAP-21, are still being worked out. Especially important will be programming procedures for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which will combine into one program three different SAFETEA-LU programs: Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails program. FHWA has issued interim guidance on TAP.

Safety-focused Funding Programs

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Division of Traffic Safety (DTS), administers highway safety funds made available to IDOT DTS annually through the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Highway Safety Program grants (Section 402) are designed to help states, counties and communities initiate programs to address traffic safety-related problems and generally to promote traffic safety on our highways. The major goals of DTS are to reduce motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries, increase the use of occupant protection devices, and to reduce impaired driving. The grants available through this program focus on enforcement, education, outreach, and training. (See http://www.trafficsafetygrantsillinois.org/Grants_2014.asp.)

Although IDOT has reduced the number of programs from six to four, and no longer has the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Program (PBS), the Injury Prevention Program (IP) can be used for to fund pedestrian and bicycle safety education programs and projects. In the past, IDOT safety grants have been used to produce educational materials, such as the brochure, "Safe Bicycling in Illinois."

Here is IDOT's description of the Injury Prevention Program (IP).

Injury Prevention Program: This program is designed to reduce fatalities and injuries sustained in traffic crashes through educational programs. The staff in your community provides educational presentations, coordinates public information campaigns, and works with the media to raise public awareness of safe driving laws, use of occupant protection devices, helmets and designated drivers. This program can be implemented for schools and community meetings.

Grant application procedures and due dates will be announced on the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Traffic Safety websiteand, for FFY 2013, grant applications were accepted through February 17, 2012.

Website: http://www.trafficsafetygrantsillinois.org/Grants_2013.asp##IPP

The two other highway safety programs, although not as applicable as the Injury Prevention Program, may in certain cases relate to and help fund bicycle and pedestrian safety-related projects. These two programs are as follows:

Local Alcohol Program (LAP): designed to produce a significant impact on a local community's impaired driving problem. Project activities may include local task force formation, DUI enforcement, public information and education, prosecution and adjudication. Starting in FFY 2011 enforcement was limited to hire back officers.

Website: http://www.trafficsafetygrantsillinois.org/Grants_2014.asp##LAP

Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP): These grants are designed to increase occupant protection usage and to reduce DUI through hire back enforcement. This program provides for participation in special enforcement campaigns such as "Click It or Ticket" and "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over". This program includes up to ten (10) enforcement periods. Enforcement details during the Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Years, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day campaigns is required for these grants .

Websites: http://www.trafficsafetygrantsillinois.org/Grants_2014.asp##STEP

In FFY 2014, the deadline for applications for all safety programs was February 15, 2013.

SAFETEA-LU Programs (for informational purposes)

As mentioned above, SRTS and ITEP have been combined under MAP-21 inthe Transportatin Alternatives Program (TAP). Nevertheless, IDOT still maintains websites on these programs, and it may be that TAP -- or aspects of it -- will draw upon the goals and programming rules of SRTS and ITEP. We therefor offer the following for informational purposes:

Safe Routes to School (SRTS): The Illinois Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) has been administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). SRTS uses a multidisciplinary approach to improve conditions for students who walk or bike to school. The program has three main goals:

  • To enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school
  • To make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and
  • To facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity (within 2 miles) of both public and private primary and middle schools (grades K-8).

The Illinois Safe Routes to School Program providing funding for both infrastructure improvements to the physical environment, as well as non-infrastructure projects. Eligible project sponsors include schools and school districts, governmental entities and non-profit organizations. Projects may be organized on a variety of jurisdictional levels.

The Illinois SRTS Program elements include:

  • Funding at 80% with a 20% local match
  • 70% to 90% of the total allocated funds for Illinois will support infrastructure projects. 10% to 30% of funds will support non-infrastructure programs.
  • Requires an approved Illinois School Travel Plan
  • Only those projects and programs included in the corresponding School Travel Plan are eligible for funding.
  • Multiple projects may be applied for by a single Sponsoring Agency, using a single application.
  • School Travel Plans and funding applications are accepted only through an online application process.

On January 24, 2012, Governor Quinn announced the funding recipients for the 2011 SRTS Funding Cycle. 229 projects were chosen to receive funding totaling $21.7 million. The full list of awarded projects is available for viewing by clicking the link "2011 Funded Projects" at the top of the left hand sidebar of the IDOT SRTS webpage. The northeastern Illinois region received a total of approximately $8.91M (approximately 41%), of the $21.17M programmed statewide. CMAP has posted an analysis of a survey of municipalities in the region in relation to whether or not they have approved school travel plans at http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/bike-ped (scroll 1/2 down webpage).

SRTS Website: http://idot.illinois.gov/transportation-system/local-transportation-partners/county-engineers-and-local-public-agencies/safe-routes-to-school/index


Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program Grants

The Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) provides funding for community based projects that expand travel choices and enhance the transportation experience. Funding can be used for cultural, historic, aesthetic, and environmental improvements related to transportation infrastructure. A project must fall into one of twelve (12) eligible categories listed within the ITEP Guidelines Manual and also must relate to surface transportation in order to qualify.

A sub-category of the ITEP program is the Illinois Green Streets Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and to address the growing threat of global climate change, through landscape or streetscape projects that involve the planting of native trees and prairie grasses.

Funding will be provided for up to eighty percent (80%) of the project costs. The remaining twenty percent (20%) is the responsibility of the program sponsor.

Announcement of 2012 funded projects was made in January, 2013. For more information, see the IDOT's ITEP webpage : http://idot.illinois.gov/transportation-system/local-transportation-partners/county-engineers-and-local-public-agencies/funding-opportunities/ITEP


The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant requests are submitted through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). This is a federally funded program that is part of the surface transportation improvements designed to improve air quality and to mitigate congestion. It was created in 1991 as part of the Inter-modal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). Eligible projects include pedestrian and bicycle facility projects, as well as transit improvements and traffic flow projects.

Projects are submitted for Northeastern Illinois through the CMAP Transportation Committee and then are reviewed by the Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee, who approves a final program for funding. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) administers the program.

CMAP continues to help implement GO TO 2040 through the CMAQ program by having Program Focus Groups evaluate and prioritize submitted projects based upon how well they support the goals and objectives of GO TO 2040. In the last round (October 2011), after Board and Policy Committee approval, CMAP announced a five-year, $411 million CMAQ program, funding 115 projects designed to reduce congestion, improve air quality in metropolitan Chicago. CMAP recently (February 8, 2013) closed the application period for a new round of CMAQ funding (CMAQ FFY 2014-18)

Website: http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/congestion-mitigation-and-air-quality


The Surface Transportation Program (STP) provides flexible funding that is used by states and localities on any Federal-aid highway, bridge projects on any public road, transit capital projects, and bus terminals and facilities. The federal share for the program generally is eight (80) percent, but is subject to the sliding scale adjustment. STP funds can be used for bicycle and/or pedestrian projects or elements of projects.

Northeastern Illinois is divided into eleven Councils of Mayors, which are allocated STP funding on the basis of population for local transportation projects. Each Council oversees the planning and programming of these STP funds within their own region, and each as developed its own set of project selection guidelines.

All projects will be approved by the individual Council and then will be reviewed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). All selected projects must be submitted to CMAP for inclusion in the region's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

For more information about the Council of Mayors, see the CMAP webpage http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/council-of-mayors

State of Illinois Resources

Illinois Department of Natural Resources: IDNR administers Outdoor Recreation Grants-in-Aid programs. The programs, which are most relevant for bicycle and pedestrian projects include:

  • Bicycle Path Program – helps with the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public, non-motorized bicycle paths and directly related support facilities. Applications must be received by IDNR by March 1 of each calendar year, when there is an active program. For more information see: http://dnr.state.il.us/ocd/newbike2.htm.
  • Recreational Trails Program – provides up to 80% funding assistance for acquisition, development, rehabilitation and maintenance of motorized and non-motorized recreation trails. Applications are due March 1 of each calendar year. For more information see: http://dnr.state.il.us/ocd/newrtp2.htm.
  • Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD), Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and Park and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) -- the OSLAD and LWCF programs assist local government agencies in the acquisition and development of land for public parks and open space. Both programs have been used to fund bicycle/multi-use trail development. The PARC program provides grants to eligible local governments for park and recreation unit construction projects, including the acquisition, development, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, improvements, architectural planning, and installation of capital facilities such as buildings, structures, facilities, and land for park, recreational open space, and purpose. Applications are accepted between May 1 and July 1 of the calendar year. For more information see: http://dnr.state.il.us/ocd/newoslad1.htm.

Member Initiative Money: State legislators have discretionary funds that can be used for projects of their choice. They can be powerful allies for pulling together and providing resources for projects that span municipalities. When the Village of Roselle was seeking support for the design and construction of a pedestrian bridge crossing Lake Street (a busy, multi-lane lane arterial) to the Village of Bloomingdale, the Senator and Representative for the area, former Sen. Doris Karpiel and Representative (now Senator) Carole Pankau provided $250,000 each— the final pieces of the funding puzzle on this project. The bridge was completed in 2007.

Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance: Also known as the Rivers and Trails Program or RTCA, this program is the community assistance arm of the National Park Service. RTCA staff provide technical assistance to communities so they can conserve rivers, preserve open space, and develop trails and greenways. The RTCA program implements the natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation mission of the National Park Service in communities across America. August 1 is the deadline each year for the next round of assitance. Applicants are stronly encouraged to discuss project ideas with RTCA staff before submitting an application. Please contact: Diane Banta at diane_banta@nps.gov or (312) 863-6287. See: http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/rtca/whatwedo/projects/IL.pdf.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Illinois DCEO) Tourism Attraction Development Grant Program (TAP): This program was created "to provide matching grants to assist in the development or improvement of projects that increase the economic impact of tourism throughout the State." The program provides grants to counties, municipalities, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations to assist in the development and improvement of tourist attractions in Illinois. TAP grants and loans shall not exceed $1,000,000 and shall not exceed 50% of the entire amount of the actual expenditures for the development or improvement of a tourism attraction.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Illinois DCEO) Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP): The Illinois DCEO CDAP program is "a grant program funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that assists Illinois communities by providing grants to local governments to help them in financing economic development projects, public facilities and housing rehabilitation. The program is targeted to assist low-to-moderate income persons by creating job opportunities and improving the quality of their living environment."


It is important for local communities and organizations to work with their city councils or town boards to allocate local resources for planning, engineering studies, and specific projects. Outside agencies are often more willing to fund projects that are already underway on local initiative and with local resources.

General Revenues: In our region, the Village of Downer's Grove used general revenues to develop their comprehensive bicycle plan. Wheaton's Park District used capital funds to upgrade a path system that provides access to the train station and a grade school.

TIF Districts: These revenues can be used to improve conditions for walkers and cyclists as part of larger development projects. Arlington Heights used TIF money to help pay for the reconstruction of its pedestrian and bicycle friendly Metra station.

Other Funding Approaches

  • General obligation bonds
  • Bike licensing/registration fees (for exclusive use in building/maintaining bicycle and pedestrian facilities)
  • Creating "advanced transportation districts" in zoning and development ordinances with traffic impact fees
  • Local-option transportation taxes (see overview at: Local Option Transportation Taxes in the U.S. and at: Local Option Transportation Taxes -- State by State ).
  • Setting aside a portion of vehicle registration fees, and designating a percentage of STP funds for bike facility construction and maintenance (see provisions governing use of Motor Fuel Tax receipts, state by state). As an example, Alameda County, in California, set aside five percent of the county's transportation sales tax funding to go to bicycle and pedestrian projects. Chambers of commerce and tourism can help promote shopping and visiting by foot and bike. The fact is that bicycle and pedestrian facilities can be substantial attractions for tourists and economic activity. (See, for example, the article "Economic Impact of Investments in Bicycle Facilities: Case Study of North Carolina's Northern Outer Banks"). Here in northeastern Illinois, in the Village of Woodridge, the local chamber of commerce prints and distributes a community map that includes bikeways. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs also administers grants and provides technical assistance through programs such as the Illinois Main Street Program.

Health care providers and health advocacy groups can promote walking and biking as ways to avoid a physically inactive lifestyle, and the associated health problems and costs. The Illinois Department of Public Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity Section, is promoting the value of walking and biking for purposeful trips, like errands and work commutes. In the City of Chicago, the Active Living Logan Square partnership (with a grant from the Active Living Resource Center.

See http://www.activelivingresources.org/aboutalrc.php) focuses on creating an environment that promotes physical activity and health.

Employers can create incentives for employees to walk or cycle by providing showers, bike parking, a guaranteed ride home in an emergency, flex time, transit subsidies, and the cash equivalent of free parking benefits. Employers can also participate in Employer Assisted Housing programs that encourage walking and biking distances between housing and employment centers. Also visit www.commuterconnections.org (a resource in Washington, DC with good advice for employers on promoting bike commuting).

Community groups can contribute time and labor to the planning and construction of facilities. In Batavia, volunteer labor made possible a new riverwalk.

Cycling and walking groups are a source of vocal and knowledgeable advocates willing to assist in planning and lobbying for improvements. The League of Illinois Bicyclists maintains a list of local bicycle clubs. The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and the Center for Neighborhood Technology are also good resources.

Advocacy organizations can provide lobbying support, technical assistance and funding. Bikes Belong recently granted the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation $10,000 to assist with the design and implementation of the Navy Pier Flyover, one of CDOT's projects. Active Living Resource Center has provided funding the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and to Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail.

The media can help promote your facilities and programs. BikeChicago2007 got extensive media coverage, including the reproduction of its new map in a Sunday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The private sector can donate money, land and other resources. The recently constructed path on the south side of the Chicago River received 50% of its funding from the adjacent Illinois Center.

For an extensive list and information on bicycle and pedestrian funding sources, please see: http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/pp/funding/index.cfm (bicycling) and http://www.walkinginfo.org/pp/funding/index.cfm (walking).

For more information, contact:

John O'Neal
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
233 S. Wacker Dr. Suite 800
Chicago Illinois 60606

To Top