Ask USDOT to #MakeMeCount this Bike to Work Day

make-me-count
Don and his co-pilot asked USDOT to #MakeMeCount last week. Photo by @KostelecPlan.

This Friday, thousands of people across the country will put on their helmets and take to the streets for National Bike to Work Day, an annual event promoting active commuting options and safer streets.

Will you be joining the event? If so, make your ride even more impactful by telling USDOT to #MakeMeCount when it comes to measuring how well a street works.

Feds get out of the way of communities that want to design safer, more complete streets

The Federal Highway Administration made two big moves this last week to clear the way for states, metro areas, and local communities to use federal dollars to design safer, more complete streets.

Both of these updates are great news for anyone advocating for streets that better meet the needs of everyone that uses them, as well as better serving the goals of the surrounding community. FHWA deserves a big round of applause for making these changes.

If you are working on a local transportation project and your DOT or some other agency cites vague federal rules when refusing to build a safe and complete street, show them the FHWA memo below. Their guidance makes it extremely clear: there’s wide latitude to design streets to best suit local needs, and old regulations that treat all roads like highways have been rolled back.

Tell USDOT that #WeAllCount

we-all-count700px

If someone takes the bus to work, and no one is around to count them, do they still matter?

We say yes, but the U.S. Department of Transportation seems to disagree.

Last week, USDOT issued a draft rule that will govern how states and metro areas will have to measure and address congestion, along with freight movement and emissions. These new requirements will help measure what America’s transportation dollars are actually buying us—which is great. 

However, the rule as it is currently written would measure success in outdated ways. Using old measures will lead to the continued use of outdated strategies, such as prioritizing fast driving speeds above all other modes of transportation and their associated benefits.

Tell FHWA to pass their proposed rule on street design



Last month, the Federal Highway Administration put forward a great idea.

The agency, which oversees the design of millions of miles of roads in the United States, proposed a new rule which would dramatically ease federal design standards for many of those roadways. It’s a move that would make a Complete Streets approach significantly easier for communities across the country.

You go, FHWA! Tell the agency to adopt its proposed rule.

This week: How will the House improve its version of the transportation bill?

Last week the House of Representatives passed its initial version of a multiyear transportation bill. This bill has the potential to make streets safer across the country, help communities build more homes and offices near transit, and give more control of transportation investments to local communities. In order for this to happen, though, the House’s version of the bill needs to improve considerably.

Representatives agree: they’ve filed more than 200 amendments to the current version of the bill. Today the Rules Committee will decide which ones to allow to the floor. And then later this week, the full House will vote on all the amendments and create their final version of the bill.

Make the next transportation bill a forward-looking one: Send a letter to your representative this morning >>

Several amendments under consideration would improve how the bill supports walkable communities served by transit, including:

  • Amendment #18 from Representative Lipinski of Illinois, which would make transit-oriented development (TOD) eligible for RRIF funding.
  • Amendment #21 from Representative DeSaulnier of California, which would improve planning and project selection performance measures and transparency.
  • Amendment #37, also from Representative Lipinski, which expresses the Sense of Congress that TOD is an eligible activity under the RRIF program.
  • Amendment #47 from Representative Schakowsky of Illinois that would require a study and rule on safety standards or performance measures to improve pedestrian safety.

Where we’re going, we DO need roads — and Congress can make them safer, smarter, and closer to transit

bttf

We might not have trash-powered flying cars in 2015, but we CAN invest in a transportation system of tomorrow. Congress is considering the next federal transportation bill this week — tell them to make it a forward-looking one.

The U.S. House of Representatives introduced their proposal for a new federal transportation bill last week, and Representatives will mark up and vote on the bill in committee tomorrow.

This gives us a small window of time to improve the bill as it stands, and we need your help. Tell your Representative to make the next transportation bill a forward-looking one.

USDOT proposes to remove restrictive design guidelines that make safer streets more difficult to build

incomplete-street

Crossposted from Transportation for America.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) took an encouraging and surprising step this week to make it dramatically easier for cities and communities of all sizes to design and build complete streets that are safer for everyone by easing federally-mandated design standards on many roads.

Currently, FHWA has a long list of design criteria that local communities and states must adhere to when building or reconstructing certain roads, unless they choose to go through an arduous process of requesting an exception to do things like line a downtown street with street trees, reduce the width of lanes to add a bike lane, or curve a street slightly to slow traffic and make it safer for people in cars and on foot.

In this new proposed rule, FHWA decided after a thorough review to scrap 11 of 13 current design criteria for certain roads because they decided these criteria have “minimal influence on the safety or operation on our urban streets” and has a stronger connection for rural roads, freeways and higher speed urban arterials.

Congress is about to have a key opportunity to make communities more walkable. Will they?

couple-walking-action

Yesterday, the U.S. Surgeon General launched a new nationwide Call to Action to help Americans be healthier by making walking and physical activity a bigger part of their daily lives.

The event recognized physical activity as one of the nation’s highest health priorities. And as Dr. Murthy explained yesterday, building communities where it is safe and convenient to walk, bike, or wheelchair roll is part of the solution.

Congress is about to have a critical opportunity to take action on this issue. Legislators are currently working on a multiyear federal transportation bill which will shape communities and transportation programs for years to come. As representatives negotiate the bill in the coming weeks, will they prioritize walkable communities?

Tell your Representative to listen to the Surgeon General: Make walkable communities a priority in the next federal transportation bill.

What if we labeled unwalkable neighborhoods like we do cigarettes?

The Surgeon General of the United States will kick off a new nationwide Call to Action later this morning, aiming to help Americans lead healthier lives—by making walking and physical activity built-in features of more of our neighborhoods.

Over the past decade, scores of research has shown the correlation between physical inactivity and sprawl development. Today, 10 percent of the preventable deaths in America are related to physical inactivity and its related diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—and communities without safe places to walk are part of the problem. Smart Growth America’s 2003 report Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl was one of the first to examine this issue. Today, the Surgeon General is making it a national health priority.

Speaking out for smart growth issues leads to a better transportation bill in the Senate

Yesterday, the Senate finally passed its version of a six-year federal transportation bill. As you likely know by now, this bill will have a huge impact on how communities across America grow in the coming years.

We asked you to speak out about a number of issues related to this bill over the last few weeks. And right now, I want to say thank you for stepping up.

Many of the crucial provisions we championed—the Safe Streets Act, TIFIA financing for transit-oriented development, and protection of the TIGER grants program at the U.S. Department of Transportation—were included in the final version of the bill.