Tri-State campaign wants tougher safe-streets bill
A bill to require streets to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians has passed the New York State Senate, but the Tri-State Transportation Campaign says the Assembly version is too weak.
The bill, sometimes called “complete streets,” requires municipal planners to consider people walking, riding bicycles and using wheelchairs — and not merely cars and trucks — when they design streets.
Here’s the campaign’s statement:
TSTC to State Assembly: New York Needs a “Complete Streets” Bill With Teeth
On the heels of the New York State Senate’s nearly unanimous passage of sweeping legislation that will create more livable and walkable communities across the state, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign called on the New York State Assembly to amend the language of its version of “complete streets” legislation currently moving through the approval process.
“The complete streets policy passed today by the Senate will ensure that all new and rehabilitated roads are designed for all users, including walkers, cyclists, and the disabled,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “By making our streets safer and more balanced, complete streets will save lives, revitalize downtowns and Main Streets, and help ensure our transportation system is ready for the challenges of the 21st century.”
The Senate bill directs state, county, and local transportation departments to consider bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in the planning and development of new and reconstructed roads. Unfortunately, gaps in the companion Assembly bill, passed by the Transportation Committee earlier this week, would render the legislation useless in its impact.
“The Assembly has watered down its complete streets bill to the point that it will do little to fix dangerous roads,” said Kyle Wiswall, Tri-State Transportation Campaign general counsel. “Not only does it significantly limit the number of roads that would see improvement, but it paradoxically allows a decisionmaker to ignore safety improvements because the road is determined to be too dangerous – precisely the problem that the original bill aimed to fix.”
Passage of the legislation is greatly needed in New York. According to a national report titled Dangerous by Design, co-authored by Tri-State Transportation Campaign staff analyst Michelle Ernst, New York State had the 3rd highest number in the nation for pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people aged 65 and older, behind Hawaii and California. 22.5 percent of total traffic deaths in New York State were pedestrians in 2007 and 2008 — compared to a national average of 11.8 percent. In the New York City metropolitan area, 31 percent of total traffic deaths were pedestrians.