A Federal Complete Streets law?

Bipartisan bill to require Complete Streets policies nationwide.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D – CA) and Congressman David Joyce (R – OH) introduced bipartisan legislation that would ensure our nation’s roadways are built with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, motorists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. The Safe Streets Act of 2013 would require each state to implement a Complete Streets policy within two years that ensures all new federally-funded transportation projects accommodate the safety and convenience of all users.

San Fernando Green Bikeways

Representative Matsui introduced a similar bill in 2011 with Representative Joyce’s 14th District predecessor, Steven LaTourette (R-OH). H.R. 1780, “The Safe & Complete Streets Act of 2011,” died in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This followed two previous attempts at Federal Complete Streets legislation in 2008 and 2009.

While the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported a two percent drop in roadway fatalities between 2010-2011, the number of pedestrian deaths increased by three percent and bicyclist deaths by nine percent over the same period. Research shows that well-designed sidewalks, bike lanes, intersections, and other street features to accommodate all modes of travel can significantly reduce injuries, deaths and automobile crashes. To this end, more than 500 jurisdictions at the local, regional and state levels have already implemented Complete Streets policies to plan, construct, and operate streets that safely accommodate all users.

Walking in San Francisco

“Too many of the roads in our country are designed solely with drivers in mind,” says Matsui of her 2013 bill. “The risks of such design are evident in the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and injuries we see every year, and often discourage more people from considering other transportation methods,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “That is why I am pleased to introduce the Safe Streets Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation that would ensure our communities’ streets are developed with all users in mind. Complete Streets policies have been a major success at the local and state level, saving lives, easing congestion, fighting air pollution and creating forward looking projects that provide lasting value.”

“The Safe Streets Act is another sign that Congress is responding to the demands of the American public for travel options that are safe and convenient for all users of our transportation system,” says Roger Millar, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. “It should be safe and convenient to drive on America’s streets, and just as safe and convenient to walk, ride a bike or take transit.”

“WALKSacramento applauds Rep. Matsui’s leadership on the Complete Streets issue. The City of Sacramento has too many streets that are dangerous for pedestrians. But many of these streets, such as Fruitridge Road, qualify for federal support. We need a federal Complete Streets measure to provide the funding and direction to make our streets safer for all users,” said Teri Duarte, executive director of WALKSacramento.

“Sacramento has been a national leader in the movement to ensure that our public streets and roads conveniently and safely accommodate all those who use them, including those who aren’t traveling by car. We are grateful for Ms. Matsui’s leadership in continuing to champion Complete Streets as a federal policy,” said Jim Brown, executive director of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA).

The Safe Streets Act of 2013 is supported by numerous organizations including: AARP, Transportation for America, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the American Planning Association, the League of American Bicyclists, and the National Association of Realtors.

[Press release from Matsui's office]

One comment

  • June 21, 2013 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    While I LOVE the idea of complete streets. I HATE the notion of Federal overreach into what should be a State prerogative under our Constitution. There’s a fix for that – amend the Constitution. It is no different than freedom of speech or to bear arms in that regard.

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