Transportation lawmakers have introduced the Complete Streets Act, a proposal aiming to implement a country-wide program with boosted features for safer overall street design.
“Year after year of increasing pedestrian and bicyclist deaths demand that we take bold action to ensure the safety of all road users,” said Senator and Commerce Committee member, Ed Markey, in a recent tweet. “That’s why [Representative Steve Cohen] and I are reintroducing our Complete Streets Act.”
The program would work to bring about safer road features in areas like intersections and specific corridors to keep drivers and pedestrians as safe as possible. State agencies would be required to allocate some of their funding to “complete streets projects,” the majority of which would likely take place in more urban areas where enhanced safety is of particularly high priority.
These boosted safety efforts would be seen along bike lanes, crosswalks, bus stops, and sidewalks in order to improve vehicle access and convenience in these areas as well as make way for safer accommodation for everyone who shares the road–whether on a bike, in a car, or on foot.
According to Markey, these “increasing fatalities demand that we make significant investments to ensure safety for all users of the road. At the same time, these investments present an enormous opportunity to lead the world into a new era of more accessible and climate-friendly transportation.”
Markey also added that prioritizing these values will lead to enhanced community wellbeing in a variety of ways.
“By fostering ‘complete’ streets, we will foster complete communities–ones with less reliance on gas-guzzling cars, greater safety, and more equity in everyone’s ability to access work, school, and other critical services.”
The legislation, co-sponsored in the Senate and the House by Markey and Representative Cohen, was referred to committees of jurisdiction and also sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Brian Schatz, along with Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Ruben Gallego. It would mandate that 5% of federal highway funds be dedicated specifically to “complete streets” projects and would require “complete streets” policy adoption that would focus heavily on these kinds of projects.
Metropolitan Planning Organizations, along with state agencies, would need to determine whether or not specific policies meet the minimum requirements, and agencies would also need to find ways of implementing user-accommodating and safety-boosting project design regulations.
“The United States is facing a national safety crisis,” explained Cohen. “In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles. We need streets that can accommodate all means of transportation, from foot traffic and strollers to bicycles, cars, light trucks, and 18-wheelers.”
The measure is also being backed by various stakeholders, especially by safety advocates across all areas of the transportation industry.
In support of Markey’s proposal, executive director of the League of American Cyclists, Bill Nesper, said that all Americans, “whether they bike, walk, drive, or take transit, should be able to use our roads safely.” He added: “The League of American Bicyclists applauds Senator Markey and Representative Cohen for reintroducing the Complete Streets Act, and we are proud to support the bill, because we believe that when more people choose to ride bikes, communities are stronger and our nation is healthier.”
The overall concept and motivation behind “complete street” strategies are meant to benefit everyone, in every corner of the country, the U.S. Department of Transportation assured.
“The concept of ‘complete streets’ encompasses many approaches to planning, designing, and operating roadways and rights of way with all users in mind to make the transportation network safer and more efficient,” the department explained. “Complete Street’ policies are set at the state, regional, and local levels and are frequently supported by roadway design guidelines.”
This bill is also a sign that the country’s mindset regarding road safety is finally changing, noted Transportation for America policy director, Scott Goldstein.
“The Complete Streets Act is huge step toward reversing these perverse incentives by reallocating existing funding and empowering cities and towns to design streets that keep everybody safe.” he said. “We are pleased to support this important legislation again this year.”