Complete Streets goes national

bike-signal (540x354)A new federal bill, the Safe Streets Act, would support the 600 Complete Streets policies currently in place across the nation. U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Fox expressed his support for Complete Streets at the National Bike Summit.

According to Smart Growth America’s recent report, over 600 towns, regions and states have passed Complete Streets policies. However, these bills still have no federal counterpart. Now, a bill in Congress has been drafted that would address this disparity.

The Safe Streets Act (H.R. 2468/S. 2004) would direct each state or state department of transportation and metropolitan planning organization (MPO) to create an explicit policy within two years requiring all federally-funded transportation projects to accommodate the safety and convenience of all users in accordance with complete streets principles. The law requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish a method for evaluating compliance by states’ departments of transportation and MPOs with complete streets principles, as well as conducting research regarding complete streets that will assist states, MPOs, and local jurisdictions in developing and implementing compliant plans. It also calls for establishment of benchmarks and for provision of technical guidance in complete streets policies.

Although project-specific exemptions would be allowed, the mere presence of a national law has the potential to create significant momentum for complete streets and active transportation projects— without separate funding sources or any new federal spending. Parks & Trails New York supports this legislation. You can find out more on the bill at Smart Growth America’s website, as well as accessing an online advocacy tool to let your Congressional Representative and Senators know where you stand.

While not directly addressing current legislation, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox expressed his support for Complete Streets while addressing a group of cyclists at the National Bike Summit on Tuesday, March 4. Fox described the changes he instituted to make cycling and walking safer in Charlotte, North Carolina during his term as mayor there. The DOT Secretary characterized the level of fatalities among bicyclists and pedestrians as a “crisis,” and pledged to make cycling and walking priorities in the President’s $302 billion transportation proposal. Read more on Secretary Fox’s appearance at the Bike summit here, as well as on the DOT’s Fast Lane blog.

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