State Legislators Call for Dedicated Complete Streets Funding

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.

  • Kevin Love

    So, let me get this straight. New York State’s plan is that walking and cycling will constitute 16% of all trips in New York State… by 2015. And to support that 16% mode share, walking and cycling will get $20 million, or 0.0905% of the funding.

    Something does not quite add up here.

    Let’s see… by my math, 16% of $22.1 billion comes to $3.536 billion. That’s the amount that should be dedicated to walking and cycling to support the stated goal of New York State. Unless, of course, that goal was complete BS whose only purpose was to kick the can down the road when that goal was put in place… in 1997. See:

    https://www.dot.ny.gov/display/programs/bicycle/maps/app_repository/bike_and_ped_plan.pdf

  • ahwr

    In 2009 22% of all trips in NYS (page 45 in the pdf) and 8.5% of commute trips (page 67 in the pdf) were made on foot according to this.

    https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/policy-and-strategy/darb/dai-unit/ttss/repository/ComparisonRpt09-95-011107.pdf

    In your link on page 3 under “goals” – “increase mobility” 16% was the national goal for all trips. NYS exceeds that. NYS goal for 2015 was 8.5% of commuter trips. Walking alone seems to meet that.

  • walks bikes drives

    As much as I agree that funding needs to be increased, it obviously is not fair to devote funding specifically based on mode share percentage alone. Some projects are more expensive than others. And by value to the public good, roads will always be more valuable than sidewalks for non personal travel purposes, such as emergency vehicle access, etc. Yes, funding for bike/pee needs to be greatly increased, but it just is not as simple as simple mode share percentage.

  • Miles Bader

    They could allocate funds by mode-share, and then allow some modes to “donate” some of their share to others based on compatibility and mutual reinforcement.

    For instance, pedestrian infrastructure is relatively cheap, whereas subways are expensive, and they are very compatible and mutually beneficial modes, so it would make sense for leftover pedestrian funding to be donated to subway construction.

  • Daniel

    While I like the idea of a dedicated funding stream, $20 million is barely enough to refurbish the pedestrian amenities on one mile of a city arterial.

  • neroden

    Politically, I’d like to point out that the three Republicans calling for more walking & bicycling funding are UPSTATE Republicans.

    Long Island Republicans don’t care; they’re all about cars. Therefore we can expect Flanagan to obstruct this. There’s a fault line in the Republican caucus about this.

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