In addition to leaving out a Complete Streets provision, the House bill will likely make it more difficult for local communities to build Complete Streets by eliminating the dedicated bicycle and pedestrian funding that many have used to help fix their incomplete streets. Coalition partner America Bikes is working with Representatives Tom Petri (R, WI-6) and Timothy Johnson (R, IL-15) to offer an amendment to restore that funding.
The House bill also would remove an important requirement that bicycle accommodation be provided if possible when bridges are replaced or rehabilitated with federal funds. This provision is a cost-effective Complete Streets approach to improving a critical safety and access problem.
Other provisions of the bill are also of concern, such as changes to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program that will likely end up favoring increasing automobile capacity over creating Complete Streets. And, while multi-modal projects are still eligible under the Surface Transportation Program, the description of the program removes language specifically including “accomodat[ion of] other transportation modes”. The only positive item we’ve been able to find is a new, more inclusive definition of ‘road users’ included in the Highway Safety Improvement Program, similar to an improvement we applauded in the Senate bill.
While much of the discussion of the reauthorization has centered on a shortage in funding, this bill does little to ensure that investment goes to the most beneficial projects for our communities. A Complete Streets provision would make each dollar work harder by ensuring every project helps improve safety for children heading to school, workers taking the bus to jobs, and older adults driving and walking to their doctors’ offices. It would also help boost job creation; studies have shown that building bicycling and walking facilities and investing in public transportation projects produce more jobs than simply providing roadways for automobiles too.
Clearly, he House has not gotten the message from the 28 states and more than 300 local governments that have recognized the need to create a street network that is safe for everyone, regardless of age, income, or how they choose to travel.