Complete the Streets News 6/14/2007 www.completestreets.org This monthly newsletter issued by the National Complete Streets Coalition provides a roundup of news related to complete streets policies --- policies to ensure that the entire right of way is routinely designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Please pass it around! COMPLETE STREETS POLICY PROGRESS Illinois Legislature sends Complete Streets Bill to Governor California Assembly passes comprehensive Complete Streets Bill Representative Oberstar recognizes the benefit of complete streets in latest bill What‘s missing? CAMPAIGN NEWS National Bike Month inspires calls to complete the streets Talking complete streets COMPLETE STREETS NEWS Complete streets and sustainability Marin County (CA): Complete streets yields new bike lanes States target non-motorized infrastructure funds when sending back money to the Feds Americans are driving less Complete streets a new drug against depression? What does it take to be a ―Complete Street‖? Two roads on opposite sides of the U.S. go on a ‗diet‘ Incomplete intersection results in wild ride RESOURCES Complete the Streets for Smart Growth See complete streets on Google Hints on how to help change the world …or at least your community Victoria Transport Policy Institute – Safe Travels: Evaluating Mobility Management Traffic Safety Impacts COMPLETE STREETS QUOTES COMPLETE STREETS POLICY PROGRESS Illinois Legislature sends Complete Streets Bill to Governor The Illinois Legislature on June 6 completed final approval of SB 314, which requires that in urban areas, ―bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any State transportation facility.― The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Rod Blagojevich. One key to the bill‘s passage was clarification that the new requirement would apply primarily to urban areas, though consideration of bicycle and pedestrian facilities is still required in nonurban areas. This helped ensure state Senate approval of the stronger language passed by the state House. The bill was spurred in part by the case of Nick Oglesby of Cary, Illinois, a teenager killed in 2000 while crossing the Fox River on his bicycle via the only available bridge, which had been built solely for automobiles. Under pressure from the community, the state added a non-motorized path to the bridge. Advocates convinced lawmakers that the bill would both save lives and help the state avoid such costly retrofits. You can see the many steps to approval here. California Assembly passes comprehensive Complete Streets Bill On June 5, the Complete Streets Act (AB 1358) passed the California Assembly and is currently on its way to the Senate. Introduced by Assembly Member Mark Leno (D-SF), AB 1358 will require that the transportation plans of California communities meet the needs of all users of the roadway including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of public transit, motorists, children, the elderly, and the disabled. The bill links the need to create complete streets to the state's commitment to address global warming. The bill notes that 41 percent of trips in urban areas nationwide are two miles or less, and that helping people bicycle, walk and use public transit for these short trips is important to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Congressman Oberstar recognizes the benefit of complete streets in latest bill In H.R. 2701, Congressman Oberstar recognizes the benefits of complete streets to address energy security and climate change issues. The bill includes a non-binding 'Sense of Congress regarding the use of complete streets design techniques.' This is an important first step for ensuring that all of our nations streets are complete. The bill also addresses the issue of states targeting transportation enhancements for federal rescissions (addressed later in the newsletter). What‟s missing? Do you have a complete streets policy in your community that isn‘t already on the Complete Streets website? Then Tim Dolan, our policy intern for the summer, wants to hear from you. Please send your local complete street policy information to firstname.lastname@example.org. CAMPAIGN NEWS National Bike Month inspires calls to complete the streets Communities across the country celebrated Bike to Work Day last month, and in some places they used the opportunity to call for better places to ride. In Los Angeles, Stephen Box and the rest of Illuminate L.A. presented a 50-foot long petition to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Deputy Mayor Jaime de la Vega, the Los Angeles City Council, Police Chief William Bratton, Planning Chief Gail Goldberg, and DOT Chief Gloria Jeff. The formal message was short and sweet: ―We need your help. We need your support. We need safe streets." Calling safe, complete streets a civil rights issue, artists, cycling enthusiasts, community members, and others personally affected by tragedies related to unsafe streets grabbed Sharpies and wrote personal testimonials over the entire banner asking officials to finally take action and make safer, complete streets. Click here for pictures and to read a personal account of the day from the Illuminate L.A. website. Elsewhere in California, cyclists in the capital area of Sacramento pedaled to make Million Mile May a success, the annual month-long event to collectively reach 1 million miles. Credit has been given to the development of complete streets for nearly doubling the total miles ridden since the program started in 2005--to 821,000 miles this year. A Sacramento Bee article tells the story of the progress of the program and how potential cyclists are being shown the conveniences and benefits of doing day-to-day activities, such as grocery shopping, on bicycles. Read it all here. The League of American Bicyclists summarized some of the national news coverage from Bike to Work Day: Fifty-one years after Bike Month was launched, Bike to Work Day is still getting great coverage. From National Public Radio to Business Week (scroll down to see story), a podcast on the Associated Press to lots of Internet coverage (including a story on That‘s Crispy), the gas prices and burgeoning obesity crisis have everyone convinced that bicycling is a fantastic alternative to driving. Bicycling advocate Ed Begley, Jr. was even profiled in the New York Times Magazine. Talking complete streets Complete Streets is getting plenty of attention at conferences and workshops around the country. This week Barbara McCann and Michael Ronkin are giving three day-long complete streets workshops in Virginia to help communities implement the state‘s complete streets policy. Last week the Coalition for Smarter Growth—a Washington, DC metro region group—sponsored a presentation by consultant Michael King of NelsonNygaard on designing complete streets to a full house. Later this month, AARP is including complete streets steering committee members Andy Clarke and Tim Blumenthal as speakers for their transportation advocacy summit for state offices in Washington DC, as well as their diversity conference in Los Angeles. And as mentioned last month, the Urban Arterials conference in Seattle features several complete streets sessions. COMPLETE STREETS NEWS Complete streets and sustainability As more cities are adopting targets to address climate change, some mayors are recognizing the role that increased walking and biking can play in reducing emissions. Plans for two of the largest cities in the country seek to promote non-motorized transportation. Some goals for PlaNYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s comprehensive plan to make New York City sustainable, are to improve access to transit and promote cycling by completing the bicycle master plan. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a plan for his city as well, dubbed GREEN-LA (click to download). Though LA currently isn‘t thought of as a bastion of cycling, the Mayor‘s plan would ―focus on mobility for people, not cars‖ and ―create a more livable city.‖ More on LA‘s efforts to increase walkability from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking: According to a June 11 Downtown News article, "When the city's Planning Commission released a fiery memorandum in April, under the banner 'Do Real Planning,' one concern rose to the top. 'Demand a walkable city,' read its first sentence. That's easier said than done. Many officials praise so-called smart growth, yet few planning regulations mandate it. "But on Thursday, June 14, in a presentation before the Planning Commission, city planners will unveil how they intend to actualize that demand, starting with Downtown. It marks the first official report for a project charged with implementing widespread design changes to Downtown streets. "If approved and adopted, the new effort, known as the Downtown Urban Design Guidelines and Standards, could mean that developers who are currently asked to widen streets for cars could instead be required to create wide, tree-lined pedestrian walkways and paseos for foot traffic...‖ Read more here. Marin County (CA): Complete streets yields new bike lanes The Marin County Bicycle Coalition is celebrating a May 22 decision by the county Board of Supervisors to construct bicycle facilities as a part of roadway repair work, including installation of bike lanes on Bel Marin Keys (2 miles in Novato), and Seminary Drive (1 mile in Southern Marin). Those were in addition to approvals for complete streets bike lane projects in six other corridors, which will be installed as the County repairs the existing roadways. MCBC's Complete Streets Campaign is encouraging all jurisdictions to install bicycle and pedestrian facilities while roadways are being repaired or reconstructed and to codify that work in a ―complete streets ordinance.‖ For more about the MCBC, go to: http://www.marinbike.org. You can also listen to this clip from NPR with interviews from Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists and Deb Hubsmith of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. From CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking. States target non-motorized infrastructure funds when sending back money to the Feds In 2006, states sent back to Washington, DC more than $600 million in unspent transportation enhancements funds as part of a massive rescission of federal transportation funds by the U.S. Department of Transportation. We were concerned that this would happen again and sure enough the numbers are in on the March 2007 rescission and TE was once again a target. TE funds the creation of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, streetscape improvements, refurbishment of historic transportation facilities, and other investments that enhance communities and access. The tables reflecting states‘ responses to the FY 2007 rescission are posted here and a link has been added to the notice here. According to our friends at the Rails to Trails Conservancy, ―The bottom line is nationally--$200 million more cut from Transportation Enhancements (TE). Once again, 19 states did not touch TE. The situation looks especially stark in Alabama, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.‖ The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program was hit hard in this round of rescissions with more than $500 million sent back. For background on how Transportation Enhancement benefit communities, download this report or visit the website of the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse. Americans are driving less According to USA Today, the once-inexorable rise in total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) appears to be leveling off for the first time in 26 years (though there is considerable debate in transportation circles as to the validity of the statistics). The story speculates that the change is the result of rising gas prices, more public transportation options, overall changes in the demographics of drivers, and also lifestyle changes which eliminate the need to use a car at all. Reducing the miles people drive is important in addressing obesity, climate change, the mobility of older people, safety, and many other issues and complete streets are an important component of making that feasible. For more on this, read the entire article here. Through interviews with Bay Area commuters for his article in InsideBayArea.com, Marton Dunai Martinez discusses the complete changes in lifestyle and economy that can ultimately be made through the implementation of complete streets. With more and more commuters taking refuge from high gas prices by biking to work, businesses are seeing a new pool of customers looking to spend big money for a more comfortable ride–-a stark contrast from the small group of bicyclists enthusiasts of yesterday. Read the entire article here. Complete Streets a new drug against depression? A study by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society states that men living in more walkable neighborhoods show less signs of depression than those in more automobileoriented areas. Because men are less likely to seek help with issues of mental and social health than women, researchers feel that men of retirement age who live in neighborhoods with complete streets benefit from the built-in, nearby social networks that are easily accessible, which curbs feelings of isolation common among the aging population. Read more from MSNBC. What does it take to be a “Complete Street”? Whether a team, a chain, or even a complete streets policy, it is always important to know that the matter at hand is only ever as strong as its weakest link. Two articles by Alan Durning found on Grist and Sightline Institute both illustrate this point. See why a striped bike lane and a sidewalk alongside a highway or city street are not an adequate substitute for a complete street policy, but rather something called ―bicycle neglect‖. Two roads on opposite sides of the U.S. go on a „diet‟ Nonantum Road, located between Newton, Watertown, and Brighton in Massachusetts, is currently a four-lane highway known for being a dangerous roadway among those in the area. State representatives have pulled together money to make the thoroughfare safer to travel for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, but some say the money will not be enough. One suggestion is to give Nonantum a ‗road diet—reduce traffic to one automobile and one bicycle lane in each direction and create wider sidewalks separated from the roadway by grass. For the full report, click here. In Washington state, ―the Seattle Department of Transportation will go ahead with plans to 'skinny' up a portion of 24th Avenue Northwest in the name of pedestrian safety, reducing four lanes of traffic to three with a center turn lane,‖ according to an article in the Ballard News-Tribune. ―The city proposed this 'road diet' with bicycle lanes on both sides of the arterial between Northwest 56th and 65th streets last year. It's based on a federal pedestrian safety study that found marked crosswalks without lights can be more dangerous to pedestrians than no crosswalk at all. "The uncontrolled, 'high risk' crosswalk at 58th has been the driving factor for the proposal because it poses a multiple lane threat, according to transportation officials. There have been five pedestrian accidents at that intersection in the last 10 years. Pedestrians often have a difficult time finding a gap in which to cross the street on fourlane roadways and reducing the number of traffic lanes to cross is one way to make it safer. Reducing traffic lanes is also meant to control traffic speeds and passing hazards that are common with four-lane streets..." Read more about the ‗road-diet‘ here. Incomplete intersection results in wild ride A man using a wheelchair in Grand Rapids, Michigan took a frightening 50-mph ride caught on the front of a semi-trailer because he wasn't able to cross an intersection in time. The man was pushed for several miles but was unhurt. According to the Associated Press, he was still crossing the street when the light turned to green – and was then pushed by the semi. Read more here. RESOURCES Complete the Streets for Smart Growth The National Association of REALTOR®‘s magazine, On Common Ground features a story (pdf) on how Complete Streets compliment Smart Growth strategies, written by Coalition Coordinator Barbara McCann. See complete streets on Google Thinking of exploring a new part of town? Thanks to the new Street View option on Google Maps, you can now find complete streets within your own city! Map out a safe, new bike or jogging route in neighborhoods you have never seen before by simply clicking on the ―Street View‖ tab and clicking on streets highlighted in blue to find your way though neighborhoods, as though you were really there. So far, only New York, Miami, Denver, Las Vegas, and San Francisco are available, but more are to be coming soon. Hints on how to help change the world …or at least your community The Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) has posted a toolkit on their website to help you and other grassroots activists learn the ropes of getting others to join your cause. Resources include, but are not limited to, sample success stories, breakdowns of the steps needed to be taken to be effective, and some templates to get you on your way. Victoria Transport Policy Institute – Safe Travels: Evaluating Mobility Management Traffic Safety Impacts This is an investigation into the causes and occurrences of safety hazards on the road. What it all boils down to: The number of crashes on highways is directly proportional to the number of cars on the road and how fast they are being driven, so the most costeffective key is to provide alternative modes of transportation and keep overall speeds low. To read the full report, click here (pdf). COMPLETE STREETS QUOTES “Regardless of your mode of transportation, your freedom to move in the public arena is a civil rights issue, and whenever one user-group gains access at the expense of another user-group, it’s a civil rights violation – plain and simple.” --Stephen Box from Illuminate L.A. regarding the Los Angeles petition for complete streets.