New Senate bill would make America’s streets safer and more accessible

Kailua, HIStudents in Kailua, HI, walk along a street with Complete Streets features. A new bill in the Senate would require Complete Streets considerations for federal projects. Photo via Charlier Associates.

Whether you walk, bike, drive or take transit, Complete Streets policies help make sure you travel safely and conveniently, and a new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would encourage every community in the country to use these strategies.

On Friday, Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2014 (S. 2004), which would require all new federally-funded transportation projects use a Complete Streets approach to planning, designing and building roads.

“America’s streets should be safe and convenient for everyone, whether you are driving, riding a bike, walking or using transit,” says Roger Millar, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. “The Safe Streets Act is another sign that Congress is dedicated to making our nation’s streets better for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, ethnicity or transportation choice.”

“I’ve been a proud supporter of Safe Streets policies since I was mayor of Anchorage and continue to support them here in the Senate,” said Sen. Begich in a statement. “These policies lead to safer roads, less traffic congestion, higher property values, and healthier families. That’s why I’m pleased to introduce this common-sense bill to strengthen our transportation infrastructure and enhance the quality of life in our local communities.”

“Too many people are killed or injured each year because our streets are simply not designed and built with the safety of everyone—including pedestrians and bicyclists—in mind. Our communities deserve safer streets,” Sen. Schatz said. “Many of our roads in Hawai’i and across America make travel difficult for seniors, families, youth, and others who are unable or choose not to drive. Our legislation provides commonsense solutions to consider the needs of our seniors and children, encourage alternative forms of transportation, and make our roads and communities safer for everyone.”

“We are pleased to see the Senate take action on the connection between roadway design and safety. Accommodating people who are walking, bicycling, driving, and riding public transportation is fundamental to creating livable streets,” said Rich Weaver, Chair of the National Complete Streets Coalition, and Director of Planning, Policy, and Sustainability for the American Public Transportation Association.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman David Joyce (R-OH) introduced a House version of the bill (H.R. 2468) in June 2013. Both the Senate and House bills encourage safer streets through Complete Streets policy adoption at the state and regional-levels—mirroring an approach already being used in more than 610 jurisdictions in 48 states as well as the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Such policies are leading to safer streets and healthier, more vibrant communities across the country. A federal provision will ensure consistency in policies and funding needed to support these local efforts to ensure safe streets.

Safer streets work better for everyone: Ask Congress to pass the Safe Streets Act today.

Complete Streets