Ask USDOT to #MakeMeCount this Bike to Work Day

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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.

Complete Streets

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.

Complete Streets

Tell USDOT that #WeAllCount

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However, the rule as it is currently written would measure success in outdated ways. Using old measures will lead to the continued use of outdated strategies, such as prioritizing fast driving speeds above all other modes of transportation and their associated benefits.

Complete Streets

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

Secretary Foxx challenges mayors to a Complete Streets approach

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Left: Secretary Foxx, photo by USDOT. Right: people walking and bicycling in Charlotte, NC. Photo by James Willamor

Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx launched the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets—inviting mayors and other local elected officials to take significant action to improve the safety of their constituents who walk or bicycle in the next year.

Their first action: attending the Mayors’ Summit for Safer People, Safer Streets this March.

Their second: Taking a Complete Streets approach locally.

Complete Streets

USDOT announces new initiative to improve safety for people bicycling and walking

pedestrian-safetyThunderbird Avenue in Phoenix, AZ. Photo via Ped/Bike Images.

Americans today are walking and bicycling for fun, for their health, and as a way to get where they need to go. But in too many communities, roads are unsafe for people traveling by foot or bike. Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced plans to help end this deadly problem.

At the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference this morning in Pittsburgh, USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a new federal initiative to make roads safer for people bicycling and walking. According to a USDOT release, the 18-month campaign will begin with road safety assessments conducted by USDOT field offices in every state, and will produce multiple resources to help communities build streets that are safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation.

Complete Streets

"They're gonna need to see this upstairs."

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Smart Growth America President Geoff Anderson personally delivered the safety rule comments to USDOT.

“They’re gonna need to see this upstairs” — that’s what the staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation said about your letters this week.

By Monday afternoon, over 1500 of you made your voices heard in support of stronger transportation safety measures through our online action. Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America, personally delivered your letters calling on USDOT to require that states set real targets for reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our streets and that they be held accountable as they work toward those goals.

Complete Streets

Last chance to tell USDOT to set real safety goals

Students walk along street with no sidewalks next to automobile traffic.

There’s just one week left to tell the US Department of Transportation to get serious about safety and accountability.

In MAP-21, the current federal law governing national transportation investments, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to set certain measures of progress for the state transportation agencies. In March, USDOT unveiled its proposal for measuring and showing progress in reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries both as pure numbers and as a function of vehicles miles traveled (VMT). Congress clearly stated that they wanted a “significant reduction” in fatalities and injuries for all users on all roads, and they doubled the amount available through the related safety program to help achieve that goal.

USDOT’s proposal falls short. Send a letter to Secretary Foxx today.

First, states only need to show progress in two of those four goals, which is out of step with Congressional intent.

Second, the process for setting goals and measuring progress is out of line with the goals states already develop—and no where near visionary or inspiring. Instead, USDOT would use a historical trend line to establish targets each year. States make “significant progress” by achieving fatality or injury numbers within a 70 percent confidence interval of that projected trend line. If a state’s target is determined to be 759 fatalities, so long as it sees fewer than 825 fatalities, USDOT will say that it has made progress. More people can die or be seriously injured without consequence.

Our third issue with the rulemaking: it doesn’t separate non-motorized users from motorized. In doing so, states could lose sight of growing safety problems in walking and bicycling among the larger share, and generally downward trending, of vehicular safety.

Complete Streets