The National Complete Streets Coalition continues our webinar series on implementation and equity this month with two stories of small towns doing big, innovative work to implement equitable transportation. Join us each month for a new topic related to creating safer, healthier, more equitable communities.
At the end of 2015, Congress passed a five-year $305 billion federal transportation bill — The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. It was the first transportation bill to ever include Complete Streets language, and the first law enacted in more than 10 years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation.
The Complete Streets provisions in the FAST Act represent a great step forward in the effort to make streets across the country safer for everyone who uses them. Notably, the bill requires National Highway System roadway designs to take into account access for all modes of transportation. It also makes NACTO’s Urban Design Guide one of the standards for when the U.S. Department of Transportation designs roads, and it permits local governments to use their own adopted design guide if they are the lead project sponsor, even if it differs from state guidelines.
Portland, Maine has begun to develop a regional bikeshare program thanks to initial technical assistance provided through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.
Portland’s Planning and Urban Development Department applied for EPA’s 2013 grants under the leadership of Jeff Levine. Portland residents, Mr. Levine noticed, already had a strong interest in alternative transportation.
“There’s a big commitment in Portland toward the environment and sustainability,” said Levine. “The challenge is providing an infrastructure that can help people to meet that goal.”
Residents were interested in a bikeshare program, but Portland needed a catalytic event to kick-start the project.
EPA’s workshops and forums, conducted earlier this month, jumpstarted the city’s efforts to implement a bikeshare program. Mr. Levine believes EPA’s time in Maine brought a necessary and “strong focus on the issue”. Residents and local officials participated in the sessions strategizing how Portland can make a bikeshare program a reality. With the project underway, Portland and the project’s supporters now must develop a business plan for a bikeshare program.