NY Gov Will Sign Complete Streets Law

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A “complete street” with space marked out not only for vehicles but pedestrians and bikes. (Photo by NYC DOT.)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he plans to sign statewide complete streets legislation. The law, crafted in partnership with the state Department of Transportation, would "require state and local transportation agencies to consider "complete streets" designs that factor in non-car uses of streets and sidewalks, according to the Cuomo's announcement.

"New York's roadways should safely accommodate all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, and this legislation will help communities across the state achieve this objective," Governor Cuomo said in a press release.

According to The National Complete Streets Coalition, 24 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. have already passed some type of complete streets legislation. Each state writes the laws differently, as cataloged here, but broadly speaking each of the laws calls for future road planning to factor in pedestrians, bike and other non-car uses for public roadway construction and design. We've reported on TN about Montana and Florida's varied efforts at enacting complete streets laws to increase safety and stimulate foot traffic in downtown areas. There is also a national law awaiting support in Congress.

According to Governor Cuomo's office, the New York law would "facilitate improved joint use of roadways by all users, including pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists as well as promote a cleaner, greener transportation system with reduced traffic congestion and the resultant air pollution." Examples of those non-car design elements were listed in the announcement. "Design features may include sidewalks, bicycle lanes, crosswalks, pedestrian control signalization, bus pull outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks, ramps, and traffic calming measures."

One of the bill's sponsors State Senator Charles Fuschillo said, "Complete streets design principles have been proven to reduce fatalities and injuries, and by taking them into consideration on future projects we will greatly improve the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers of all ages and abilities."

Kate Slevin of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign applauded the announcement. She said the death last year of Brittany Vega, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking to school on Sunrise Highway in Long Island, might've been prevented with a countdown clock and pedestrian median at the crosswalk. "This Complete Streets bill will ensure that when engineers and planners are designing and redesigning roads in the future, they will take into account the needs of everyone who uses them," Slevin said in a statement.

Complete Streets, she continued, "are safer and encourage walking and cycling, leading to healthier neighborhoods and better quality of life."