WASHINGTON, D.C. - Bipartisan "Complete Streets" legislation was introduced in Washington on Thursday. The Safe Streets Act of 2013 would require all states to ensure the needs of all roadway users are met in future federally-funded transportation projects.
The bill was co-sponsored by area Congressman Dave Joyce (R-Painesville) and Doris Matsui (D-CA).
According to the bill's outline, research shows that well-designed sidewalks, bike lanes, intersections, and other street features to accommodate all modes of travel can significantly reduce injuries, deaths, and automobile crashes.
"In northeast Ohio we're lucky to have an abundance of bike and walking paths and this bill will help improve their safety and accessibility, particularly for seniors and children," U.S. Rep. Joyce said. "My family and I have enjoyed these paths for years and it's my hope this bill will make them accessible for all northeast Ohioans."
Cleveland passed its complete streets legislation in 2011, which requires 20 percent of road construction spending will go toward sustainable transportation options, up to $1 million.
According to Jacob VanSickle, executive director of Bike Cleveland, nearly 500 communities in the United States currently have Complete Streets laws on the books.
"…it is exciting to see Representative Joyce recognize that standards requiring cities, regions, and states to build streets for everyone, whether they are on bike, walking, transit, or driving is important for safety and improved quality of life," VanSickle said.
Although the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported a two percent drop in roadway fatalities between 2010 and 2011, the number of pedestrian deaths increased by three percent and bicyclist deaths by nine percent over the same period.
"Too many of the roads in our country are designed solely with drivers in mind," said Matsui. "The risks of such design are evident in the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and injuries we see every year, and often discourage more people from considering other transportation methods,"
The bill would allow exemptions for freeways, if the cost of implementation is prohibitive or if population density in the project area is low.