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

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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.

Complete Streets LOCUS

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

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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.

Complete Streets

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

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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.

Complete Streets LOCUS

Complete Streets, TOD, and TIGER all included in Senate Commerce Committee’s transportation bill

Yesterday the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved its six-year transportation bill, the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (S. 1732).

The bill includes dozens of transportation provisions, but we were watching three in particular: the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act (S. 1626) and the Safe Streets amendment, both of which we hoped to see included, and a proposal to narrow the scope of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER grants, which we hoped would be cut.

Complete Streets LOCUS

DRIVE Act could step up Complete Streets implementation

Indy Mass Ave credit Ian FreimuthThe Cultural Trail in Indianapolis, IN exemplifies design flexibility in creating streets that are safe and inviting for walking, bicycling, and driving. Photo by Ian Freimuth.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved its draft six-year bill, the DRIVE Act, this week. Included in the bill are several provisions that would provide the long-term stability that states, regions, and local communities need to plan and build good projects and offers important steps forward for safe, multimodal streets.

Complete Streets

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 to accommodate the safety and convenience of all users.

Complete Streets

Join the advocates speaking out for the Safe Streets Act today

Today, hundreds of advocates are in Washington, DC to ask Congress to make a Complete Streets approach the national standard.

We’re on Capitol Hill this morning speaking out for the Safe Streets Act of 2013, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in June that would encourage communities to consider safety improvements in transportation project planning.

Join the advocates in Washington this morning: Tell your Representative you support the Safe Streets Act. 

Planning for safer streets saves lives. Safety improvements can often be made at little or no extra cost and without separate funding sources.

Perhaps most importantly, the bill does not trigger any new federal spending. 

Help make streets safer for everyone who uses them: Speak out for the Safe Streets Act today.

Despite the partisan gridlock Washington currently faces, making streets safer is an issue legislators on both sides of the aisle can get behind and the Safe Streets Act already has bipartisan support.

This is a bill that Congress can come together on: Speak out for the Safe Streets Act today.

Complete Streets

Congressional hearing on Safe Streets Act highlights policy flexibility and safety

“My home district of Sacramento continues to bear witness to too many pedestrian accidents,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) last week. “The needless and avoidable accidents are vivid reminders of why we need Complete Streets policies.”

Congresswoman Matsui made these comments at a briefing on Capitol Hill on Thursday hosted by the National Complete Streets Coalition. Matsui was there to introduce the Safe Streets Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Congressman David Joyce (R-OH). As Congresswoman Matsui explained to the crowd, “It is far past time for the federal government to step and show it too is committed to improving the safety of our communities.”

Complete Streets

Watch the live video stream of tomorrow's Complete Streets briefing on Capitol Hill

Tomorrow at 2:30 EDT the National Complete Streets Coalition and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute will host a briefing for members of Congress and their staff about national and local trends in Complete Streets policies, and how a fiscally-sound federal transportation policy can support the creation of safer streets in communities across the country.

Anyone interested in streets that work for everyone, including Complete Streets advocates and design professionals, are invited to listen in and join the discussion. The video below will be live as of 2:20 EDT on Thursday, June 20. Join us here tomorrow to watch the briefing as it happens live.

Complete Streets