Legislative News: Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011

Congresswoman Matsui Introduces Safe and Complete Streets Legislation
Policies Would Create Safer Roads for Bicyclists, Pedestrians, Seniors,
Schoolchildren and Motorists

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the
Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011, legislation that would require each
state’s department of transportation and metropolitan planning organization
to put in place a Complete Streets policy that ensures all Federally-funded
transportation projects accommodate the safety and convenience of all
users.  Complete Streets policies ensures roadways are built with all users
in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders,
motorists, freight vehicles, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. T
his bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Congressman Steven LaTourette
(R-OH).

“Complete Streets policies are a win-win for local communities: they save
lives and create forward-looking projects that provide lasting value,”
Matsui said.  “I have seen firsthand the interest in Complete Streets on
the local level, and a Federal Complete Streets standard will ensure a
consistent approach for all of our transportation investments.”

“I’m happy to lend my support to the Safe and Complete Streets Act, which
helps ensure the safety of all those using our roadways,” LaTourette said.

“We are so pleased to have Congressional champions who are committed to
creating safer streets,” said Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the
National Complete Streets Coalition.  “Representatives Matsui and
LaTourette are being responsive to communities across the country that are
adopting state and local Complete Streets policies and want to see a
consistent commitment to safety reflected in federal transportation
investments as well.”

The Urban Land Institute has estimated that carbon emissions from
transportation would be 41 percent above today’s levels in 2030 if driving
is not curbed, and a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute
found that providing more travel options, including public transportation,
bicycling and walking, is an important element in reducing traffic
congestion.  The study concluded that congestion was responsible for an
annual $78 billion loss in fuel during traffic jams in 2007, an increase
from $57.6 billion in 2000.

“Especially at a time when gas prices are putting enormous pressure on the
pocketbooks of American consumers, more and more people are looking for
alternatives to driving,” added Matsui.  “However, far too often, our roads
are designed with one thing in mind – trying to move vehicle traffic as
quickly as possible.  The risks of such design are apparent in the number
of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and injuries we see every year, and
often discourage more people from considering other transportation methods.
By completing our streets, we can open up our roadways to pedestrians and
cyclists – helping to ease congestion and providing an alternative to gas
powered vehicles.  In doing so, we take strides to fight air pollution and
global warming and improve our public health and safety.”

In 2008 alone, over 5,000 pedestrians and bicyclists died on U.S. roads and
more than 120,000 were injured.  One study found that designing roads for
pedestrian travel by installing raised medians and redesigning sidewalks
and intersections reduced pedestrian risk by 28%. That means that seniors
walking to the grocery store or church and children walking to school are
put at unnecessary risk.

Congresswoman Matsui’s home state of California was one of the first states
to put a Complete Streets policy in place, and the Sacramento region’s
Blueprint for growth has been a model for other metropolitan areas.  The
Blueprint incorporates Complete Streets polices on the local level, and the
Safe and Complete Streets Act would do so on a national level.

“Complete Streets polices are designed to ensure streets, intersections and
trails are designed to make them easier to use and maximize their safety,”
said Mike McKeever, Executive Director of the Sacramento Area Council of
Governments (SACOG.)  “This legislation will encourage Americans to live
more active and healthy lifestyles, while also providing more travel
options, and cutting down on traffic congestion.  SACOG applauds
Congresswoman Matsui’s leadership in helping to implement our region’s
Blueprint policies on a national level.”

“Congresswoman Matsui’s Safe and Complete Streets Legislation is right in
the wheelhouse of the City of Sacramento’s recently approved General Plan,”
Jerry Way, Director of Transportation, City of Sacramento said.  “This
proposed legislation will ensure that Complete Streets will be the standard
and not the extraordinary.”

Terry Preston, Complete Streets Coordinator for WALKSacramento, added,
“WALKSacramento applauds Rep. Matsui for her strong leadership in support
of Safe and Complete Streets in our communities.  The Safe and Complete
Streets Act of 2011 will provide needed direction and guidelines for
Federally supported road design and construction.  Pedestrians are
consistently overrepresented in traffic injury and death statistics due to
poor road design.  Yet, our need for sustainable communities calls on us to
support more walking trips to the park, the bus, our childrens’ school and
elsewhere.  We need safer, healthier and more complete streets.
WALKSacramento looks forward to working with Rep. Matsui on developing and
enacting a Federal transportation measure that will complete our streets
and meet the needs of all users regardless of age, race, income or
disability.  Our roads belong to all of us.”

A copy of the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011 is available HERE.  A
copy of a Dear Colleague letter being circulated in support of the
legislation is available HERE.

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