Last week, our friends at Transportation For America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership released a valuable report called Dangerous By Design. Yesterday I met with James Corless of t4America and a few of his colleagues from other interest groups about this report and its conclusions.
Look, no amount of engineering to make the insides of our vehicles safer for occupants is going to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. We need safer roadways. We need roadways designed to account for the needs of everyone who uses them, whether driving, walking, or riding in a wheelchair or on a bicycle.
The great thing about this Complete Streets approach to road planning is that it's actually cheaper to plan for multiple road uses ahead of time than to retrofit roadways after they are built and someone gets injured or killed.
The problem with this approach is that it does cost a little extra up front. And states and communities facing budget shortfalls may be tempted to let road safety features--wide sidewalks, safe crosswalks--get cut along the way.
That's why the groups I met with yesterday are asking for federal leadership. And that's where this DOT comes in. It turns out that a complete streets approach offers the perfect intersection of my twin guideposts: safety and livable communities.
But, as much leadership as DOT can offer, only Congress can authorize federal funding for such programs. And, as the petition urging my leadership on safer roadway planning reminds us:
"The Transportation Bill comes around just once every six years, and we can’t afford another six-year delay on building the 21st Century transportation system our country craves."
That's why, when we hold our upcoming open meetings on new transportation legislation, I urge all of you who care about this important issue--from experts to everyday pedestrians--to come forward and tell us how strongly you feel about this. Then, we can let Congress know how much momentum is truly behind safer road planning.
So please stay tuned as we announce the dates and locations of these meetings and please visit the websites of the organizations who visited me yesterday (I've listed them below) to see what you can do to raise your voice on this important issue.
American Public Health Association
National Complete Streets Coalition
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Smart Growth America
Surface Transportation Policy Partnership
Transportation For America