Complete streets legislation passed both houses of the state legislature unanimously yesterday. With Governor Andrew Cuomo expected to sign the legislation, safer and more inclusive road design should be coming soon to streets across the state.
“Everyone knew that something had to be done,” said AARP New York legislative director Bill Ferris, “so the political will was there.” In the five largest upstate counties, a pedestrian is killed by a car every ten days. On Long Island, a pedestrian is killed once a week, and in New York City, once every two and a half days. Older pedestrians are disproportionately killed in traffic crashes.
Complete streets legislation would require planners to take account of all users, including those on foot, on a bicycle, or with limited mobility, when designing a road that receives state or federal funds.
After stalling out in the Assembly in the past, the complete streets bill passed this year due to some changes to the legislation’s language and support from the governor’s office, said Ferris. “The argument that it was an unfunded mandate was put to bed,” he explained, by including a provision clarifying that municipalities wouldn’t have to spend more on complete streets projects than what was already allocated from state and federal funding. Since the governor’s office participated in the crafting of that language, explained Ferris, “we believe that the governor will sign this into law.”
In addition to support from Cuomo’s office, the complete streets bill was able to continue forward in the Senate despite the change Democratic to Republican control, thanks to support from the new chair of the transportation committee, Charles Fuschillo. “Senator Fuschillo picked up the reins on this issue from last year and pushed it over the top,” said Ferris.
Assuming that the complete streets bill is signed into law, Ferris said that AARP will next be looking into ensuring that there is sufficient funding for pedestrian and bike projects and the state DOT’s Safe Seniors program.