Bill calls for sidewalks, bike lanes on federal funded roads

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced a bill Thursday that would require federally funded road projects to be “complete streets,” meaning states would have to consider adding sidewalks and bike lanes.

Complete-street policies ensure sidewalk, crosswalks and safe transit access are taken into consideration as roadway plans are developed. Schatz and Begich said this would improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Too many people are killed or injured each year because our streets are simply not designed and built with the safety of everyone — including pedestrians and bicyclists — in mind,” Schatz said. “Our communities deserve safer streets.”

S. 2004, the Safe Streets Act would require all states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to adopt complete-street policies for federally funded projects within two years, and consider the safety of all users when designing new roads or improving existing roads. 

The bill would also allow the Secretary of Transportation to provide grants to transportation agencies across the country with best practices for implementing complete streets principles.

“Our legislation provides commonsense solutions to consider the needs of our seniors and children, encourage alternative forms of transportation, and make our roads and communities safer for everyone,” Schatz said.

The senators said 47,000 pedestrians have died in road accidents in the past 10 years — two-thirds of which happened on federally funded roads. They said access to sidewalks, bike lanes and other street features could reduce injuries and deaths.

“These policies lead to safer roads, less traffic congestion, higher property values and healthier families,” Begich said. “That’s why I’m pleased to introduce this common-sense bill to strengthen our transportation infrastructure and enhance the quality of life in our local communities.”

Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio) have introduced a companion measure in the House. 

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