For immediate release
Kate Slevin, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Lois Aronstein, State Director, AARP New York
Paul Steely White, Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives
Eric Alexander, Executive Director, Vision Long Island
Peter Fleischer, Executive Director, Empire State Future
Ivan Vamos, Legislative Director, NYS Bicycle Coalition
Enacting a comprehensive complete streets policy in New York State would not only improve the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers across the state, it would provide much needed supports to make our communities more livable now and into the future.
The Senate has already passed legislation (S.5711-B Dilan) that would provide an innovative, safe and balanced approach to how New York State designs its roadways. Under this bill, roads that are being built or redesigned using state and federal dollars would be required to consider all users of the road, pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities, public transit and automobiles. This comprehensive policy would apply to the majority of roads in New York State.
The Assembly version of the bill (A.8587 Gantt) falls short in this respect. Although it would accommodate the same modes of transportation, it is very limited in scope and scale. Under this bill, complete streets policy would only apply to state roads meaning that the majority of roads where pedestrian and bicyclist injuries occur would be exempt from the consideration of creating safe access to all users. This policy is unacceptable to our organizations.
The Assembly bill language would have a dramatic, negative impact on communities in New York State as the majority of pedestrian fatalities and injuries occur on city and county roads. A recent five-county report released by AARP, which compares five of the most populous upstate New York counties, identified the 49 most dangerous roadways in these areas. A similar report, released by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, identified ten of the most dangerous roadways in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County. The Assembly bill would exempt 46 out of the 49 identified in the upstate New York area and 7 out of the 10 identified in the downstate area.
Both reports indicated that older New Yorkers are disproportionately represented in bicycle and pedestrian fatality statistics. New York State currently ranks 3rd nationwide for pedestrian fatalities for people age 65+. Complete streets policy would not just benefit older New Yorkers but would benefit New Yorkers of all ages. This policy helps keep people healthy and has a positive local economic impact when people can more easily access the products and services in their communities.
Opponents of the bill claim that the Senate version is an unfunded mandate. That is not the case. The bill clearly states that if making accommodations for pedestrians is too costly or not needed, it does not have to be built that way. It is clearly not a mandate and does not require municipalities in New York State to build a road they either cannot afford or do not need.
It is time for the New York State Assembly to pass the Senate version of Complete Streets policy to create communities in our state that are more livable and provide a better quality of life.