The Maine Department of Transportation adopted a Complete Streets policy on June 18. The internal policy directs MaineDOT and its partner agencies to improve conditions for all road users even during routine repaving and maintenance work, and appoints the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Council to oversee ongoing implementation of the policy.
In suburban Detroit, the Macomb County, MI, Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a Complete Streets policy on June 19. In urging her colleagues to support the measure, Commissioner Toni Moceri cited the recent LOCUS report “Foot Traffic Ahead,” on the growing demand for walkable urban places.
The Austin, TX, City Council also adopted a Complete Streets policy last month, via an ordinance. The comprehensive policy links the city’s commitment to safe streets for all users to its desire to create great places that incorporate green infrastructure. It also charges the city with developing new multimodal performance metrics. Local leaders based much of the document on conversations facilitated in a National Complete Streets Coalition policy development workshop last year.
“They’re gonna need to see this upstairs” — that’s what the staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation said about your letters this week.
By Monday afternoon, over 1500 of you made your voices heard in support of stronger transportation safety measures through our online action. Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America, personally delivered your letters calling on USDOT to require that states set real targets for reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our streets and that they be held accountable as they work toward those goals.
There’s just one week left to tell the US Department of Transportation to get serious about safety and accountability.
In MAP-21, the current federal law governing national transportation investments, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to set certain measures of progress for the state transportation agencies. In March, USDOT unveiled its proposal for measuring and showing progress in reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries both as pure numbers and as a function of vehicles miles traveled (VMT). Congress clearly stated that they wanted a “significant reduction” in fatalities and injuries for all users on all roads, and they doubled the amount available through the related safety program to help achieve that goal.
USDOT’s proposal falls short. Send a letter to Secretary Foxx today.
First, states only need to show progress in two of those four goals, which is out of step with Congressional intent.
Second, the process for setting goals and measuring progress is out of line with the goals states already develop—and no where near visionary or inspiring. Instead, USDOT would use a historical trend line to establish targets each year. States make “significant progress” by achieving fatality or injury numbers within a 70 percent confidence interval of that projected trend line. If a state’s target is determined to be 759 fatalities, so long as it sees fewer than 825 fatalities, USDOT will say that it has made progress. More people can die or be seriously injured without consequence.
Our third issue with the rulemaking: it doesn’t separate non-motorized users from motorized. In doing so, states could lose sight of growing safety problems in walking and bicycling among the larger share, and generally downward trending, of vehicular safety.
In May, the City of Somerville became the latest Massachusetts jurisdiction to adopt a Complete Streets policy, and the first in the state to do so by ordinance.
Two Montana towns, Sidney and Hamilton, adopted Complete Streets policies in June, adding to the list of rural communities that recognize the importance of making streets work for everyone who uses them.
New Jersey continues to lead the nation in the number of communities with Complete Streets on the books. In the last month, the Coalition learned about eight recently adopted policies, including those in East Windsor, Elizabeth, Hightstown, Hillsborough, Pennington, South Brunswick, Summit, and Tenafly. These additions put the state’s total policy count over 100 at all levels of state and government.
New York State has also been steadily adding policies. The Lake Erie City of Dunkirk adopted a Complete Streets policy on May 20. Two days later, the City of Troy, in the Capital District, passed an ordinance adding Complete Streets as part of its city code.
New report on pedestrian deaths underscores need for strong performance measures — Complete Streets News — May 2014
On May 20, we released the latest edition of Dangerous by Design, a national report on the epidemic of pedestrian fatalities and what we can do to prevent these deaths. Dangerous by Design 2014 crunches the numbers on ten years of pedestrian fatality data, looking at where these fatalities happen and who’s most at risk, and makes specific recommendations at the national and state levels.
Yesterday, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition released Dangerous by Design 2014, a report documenting preventable pedestrian fatalities and what can be done to make our streets safer for everyone.
We hosted an online discussion with experts working on strategies and tactics to improve pedestrian safety in cities and towns nationwide.
If you weren’t able to join yesterday’s event, the recorded version is now available.
|Watch the archived webinar|
Speakers on yesterday’s call included Craig Chester, Press Manager, Smart Growth America; Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director, National Complete Streets Coalition; Corinne Kisner, Program Manager, Designing Cities Initiative at National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO); Steven Spears, Principal, Design Workshop; and Amanda Day from Best Foot Forward in Orlando, FL.
Every day, in communities across the country, people are killed while walking to school, to work or to the store. From 2003 to 2012, more than 47,000 people were killed while walking – sixteen times the number of people who died in natural disasters, but without the corresponding level of urgency. But these deaths can be prevented and it is past time for our state and federal leaders to act.
Dangerous by Design 2014, a new report released today by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, takes a look at where these fatalities happen and who’s most at risk, presenting data from every county, metro area, and state. The report also ranks the major metropolitan areas according to the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), which assesses the safety of walking by normalizing fatality rates by how often people walk to work, and by the share of traffic fatalities suffered by people on foot.
As in past years, Sunbelt communities that grew in the post-war period top the list of most dangerous regions according to the PDI: Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Miami, Memphis, Birmingham, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte. These areas developed rapidly, with many low-density neighborhoods overly dependent on extra wide, fast arterial roads to connect homes, schools, jobs and shops. Such roads rarely feature the facilities needed for safe travel by foot.
Long Beach, a city of more than 460,000 people in Southern California, has a goal to become “the most bicycle-friendly city in America.” The city is so committed to this idea that the slogan is even inscribed on the city hall building itself. Bike Long Beach, a program of the city’s Public Works Department, estimates that the number of people who bike or walk to work in Long Beach has tripled since 2012. A local commitment to safe and convenient bike facilities preceded this increase; under the leadership of its former mobility coordinator, Charles Grandy, the city pledged more then $20 million for bike-related projects.
Bike Long Beach also notes a 50 percent increase in cycling citywide, and local businesses are reaping the benefits. “The increase in ridership is in our business areas — it’s Retro Row, it’s Second Street, it’s the corner at Broadway and Pine,” said Alan Crawford, Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, in an interview with the Long Beach Gazette. “That’s what we want, because if they come by bike, they are not parking cars and we now free up that parking space for people who live further away.”
These trends also reflect an ongoing effort to build stronger connections between the city’s cycling and business communities. In 2010, Long Beach pioneered the concept of Bike Friendly Business Districts, districts where merchants actively incorporate cycling into events, promotions, services and day-to-day business operations. According to April Economides, President of Green Octopus Consulting, “If we can bike there instead of drive there, we’re healthier, we’re happier, we’re opening up car parking spaces for folks who need it and we’re helping our local businesses. It just gets to the heart of everything that’s most important about creating a healthy community.”
Long Beach, a city of more than 460,000 people in Southern California, has a goal to become “The Most Bicycle-Friendly City in America.” The city is so committed to this idea that the slogan is even inscribed on the city hall building itself. Bike Long Beach, a program of the city’s Public Works Department, estimates that the number of people who bike or walk to work in Long Beach has tripled since 2012. A local commitment to safe and convenient bike facilities preceded this increase; under the leadership of its former mobility coordinator, Charles Grandy, the city pledged more then $20 million for bike-related projects.
Every day, in communities across the country, people are killed while walking to school, to work or to the store. Many of these lives could be saved by building and operating streets that work for everyone who uses them.
On Tuesday, May 20, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition will release Dangerous by Design 2014, a report that brings attention to the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities and the decades-long neglect of pedestrian safety.
The 2014 edition will rank the country’s major metropolitan areas using a Pedestrian Danger Index, which assesses the likelihood that a person walking will be hit by a driver of a vehicle, and by looking at overall percentage of traffic deaths suffered by people walking. In addition, it will make specific recommendations at the national and state levels to improve safety, including Complete Streets practices that ensure streets are built and operated for the safety of all road users.
Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?
The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.
First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.