Will 2016 be the year New York state backs its five-year-old complete streets law with actual funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure?
New Yorkers for Active Transportation (NY4AT), a coalition of 60 advocacy organizations and community groups, has bipartisan support in both houses for a line item setting aside $20 million per year for complete streets projects.
The complete streets bill signed by Governor Cuomo in 2011 required municipalities to consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in projects that received federal or state transportation funds. Since then, however, the state has actually invested less money in walking and cycling infrastructure than it did in the years preceding the law’s passage.
Republican State Senator Richard Funke has requested $20 million for bike/ped projects in each of the next five years of the state’s $22.1 billion transportation capital plan. In a letter to Senator Majority Leader John Flanagan co-signed by fellow Republicans Terrence Murphy and John Bonacic, Funke argues that “declining resources inhibit the ability to implement the NYS Complete Streets law.” A similar letter signed by 43 Assembly members was sent to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
NY4AT first called for state investment in complete streets infrastructure in 2012, and again in 2014. Nadine Lemmon of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign writes that the funding would be “only a tiny fraction” of the combined $54 billion the state plans to invest in roads and transit over the same five-year period, but dedicated bike-ped funding would nevertheless make a difference for complete streets initiatives across the state:
The ask is small, but a designating funds to walking and biking is an important — and symbolic — move that NYSDOT and Governor Cuomo have refused to make to date.