The recent New York State Department of Transporation (NYSDOT) Complete Streets Report outlines how NYSDOT is moving closer to full implementation of the 2011 Complete Streets Law, which requires consideration of the safety and mobility of all users in transportation projects. The agency’s progress and commitment to fulfilling the 2011 legislation is apparent, but a few critical pieces for truly protecting non-motorized roadway users are still missing.
As Tri-State Transportation Campaign notes in its Mobilizing the Region blog, the most promising item in the report may be the Complete Streets Checklist, a tool which should help to make routine the consideration of complete streets design measures within the NYSDOT decision-making process. Ideally, all projects would be subject to checklist use; however, to be minimally compliant with the 2011 law, all projects receiving state and federal funding would need to use the checklist.
In other areas, NYSDOT’s embrace of all roadway users feels less convincing, with important improvements needed to current policies in order to more fully transition the agency to a Complete Streets mentality. One needed change is modification of NYSDOT’s current “preservation first” policy. This policy directs state funding to maintain existing roadways as opposed to building new lane miles, which in principle is a prudent use of funds and could encourage beneficial compact design principles. However, as it is currently applied, the Preservation First policy categorically excludes new bicycle and pedestrian projects from 80% of funding for transportation. That’s right – under the currrent law NYSDOT doesn’t consider some of the least expensive Complete Streets modifications – lane restriping for example – when it resurfaces or maintains existing roads. PTNY and New Yorkers for Active Transportation (NY4AT) have actively supported legislation to address this issue.
Effective implementation of the Complete Streets Law has been a primary goal of PTNY’s advocacy efforts with NY4AT. In 2012, New York had the nation’s worst record for pedestrian and cyclist fatalities; 27% of the fatalities on our roads were non-motorists. Using the Complete Streets checklist and including resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects in Complete Streets considerations would do much to improve the safety of the state’s bicyclists and pedestrians.
Download the report here: Complete Streets Final Report_NYSDOT