Bill Would Strengthen 2011 Law Passed to Improve Mobility and Promote Sustainability in New York
Just in time for Bike Month, New York State Senator Sean Ryan and Assemblymember Didi Barrett have announced that they have introduced legislation (S.8394/A.8624) to make communities across New York State safer and more sustainable by expanding the state’s Complete Streets policy.
Earlier this month, I posted May is Bike Month: To Address the 35,000 Crashes In Five Years. Obviously, there is a problem – a disconnect – that is preventing Buffalo from advancing even further in its pursuit to becoming a bike-friendlier city. We must all be on the same page when it comes to ensuring that biking around Buffalo is not akin to risking one’s life in the process.
New York’s Complete Streets policy was established in 2011. Just prior to passing the legislation, the City installed planted concrete medians along Main Street from the University District to Canisius College. If Complete Streets had been passed one year earlier, we probably could have prevented that debacle. It just goes to show how important the initiative is, and what happens without it. But it could still be a lot better!
According to the state Department of Transportation (DOT), “Complete Street roadway design features include sidewalks, lane striping, bicycle lanes, paved shoulders suitable for use by bicyclists, signage, crosswalks, pedestrian control signals, bus pull-outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks, ramps and traffic calming measures.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to Complete Streets, there are currently flaws. Per the policy, “…only transportation projects undertaken by the state DOT or those that receive both federal and state funding are required to use Complete Streets principles.”
That means that we are seeing a lot of missed opportunities when it comes to creating streets that are conducive to safe cycling.
The new legislation would essentially be in place to “…help create more accessible roadways and an environmentally friendly transportation system – the legislation would expand the policy to include all transportation projects that receive either federal or state funding.
Senator Sean Ryan said, “Transportation in our state is much different now than it was just 10 years ago, and it will be different still 10 years from now. As a state, we need to make sure that our infrastructure planning takes into account the current realities of transportation and the changes we expect to see going forward. In communities all across New York, we see more and more people utilizing public transportation, walking, and using bicycles to get around. As we look forward to a more energy efficient future of transportation, we need to prioritize complete street design principles that consider all users of the road, as well as the surrounding communities. This bill will expand the scope of New York’s Complete Streets policy to ensure that future projects will follow the guidelines put in place in 2011 to encourage sustainable communities.”
Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “For many important reasons, from achieving climate goals to addressing generational lifestyles, New York State must bring our roadways into the 21st century by accommodating energy efficient modes of transportation like bicycles, scooters, walking, and mass transit. Complete Streets principles ensure that we prioritize safe ways to accommodate all these modes of transportation, even as we continue to fill potholes and patch asphalt. Ours is a diverse state, with rural, suburban, and urban communities, and this legislation will help us plan for a greener future for everyone.”