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Reps. Gallego, Cohen, and Espaillat & Senator Markey Introduce Legislation to Improve Safety, Accessibility for Pedestrians, Bicyclists, Public Transit Users

July 10, 2019
Press Release
States would use federal highway money to fund local “Complete Streets” projects

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Reps. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Complete Streets Act, legislation that would promote safer and more accessible transportation routes across the United States.

A “complete street” is one designed to provide safe and accessible transportation options for multiple modes of travel, as well as for people of all ages and abilities. “Complete streets” can accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users, not just cars and freight vehicles. A “complete street” is also safe for children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities. The Complete Streets Act would require states set aside a portion of their federal highway funding to create a grant program that will fund “complete streets” projects to make transit routes safer and more accessible. 

Through this program, eligible local and regional entities can apply for technical assistance and capital funding to build safe streets projects, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops.  

“We need to make our communities friendly to all types of transportation, including biking, walking, and public transit,” said Rep. Gallego. “It will not only make our streets safer, but also spur the economy and improve public health.  I am proud to introduce legislation that will help create and sustain vibrant, accessible, and sustainable communities in Phoenix and across the country.” 

“We are facing a national safety crisis,” said Rep. Cohen. “Over the past decade, this country has seen a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians killed while walking. We need streets that can accommodate all means of transportation, from foot traffic and strollers to cars, light trucks and 18-wheelers. The grants made under the Complete Streets Act will transform communities and make them safer.” 

“Improving the safety of our streets for all users is vitally important throughout our neighborhoods and communities,” said Rep. Espaillat. “Efforts to improve road conditions throughout New York City have reduced overall traffic related deaths, yet pedestrian fatalities still increased by 4.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, and the recent spike in cyclist incidents show there’s still much more work to be done. Nationally, pedestrian deaths increased by more than 40 percent over the past year in spite of widespread “Vision Zero” efforts, and cyclist deaths are up a whopping 25 percent of the past decade. As more and more people seek alternative forms of transportation, we must make sure our roads are designed for everyone to use them safely. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce the Complete Streets Act of 2019 because we each have a stake in keeping our streets safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers by taking measures to help save lives.” 

“Our roads and sidewalks are far more than a means of transportation, they are a means of economic growth and community development, and we must make them safe and accessible for everyone,” said Senator Markey. “When we have ‘complete streets’, we can have complete communities – comprehensive centers for employment, education, health care, civic life, and commerce. Whether you are traveling by foot, spoke, or pass, everyone deserves ‘complete streets’, and this legislation will help fund transportation options for the 21st century.” 

A copy of the Complete Streets Act can be found HERE   

Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) are co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate. 

Under the Complete Streets Act

  • States would be required to set aside five percent of their federal highway money to create a “Complete Streets” program.  
  • Eligible entities would need to adopt a Complete Streets policy, participate in technical assistance, and create a prioritized plan for Complete Streets projects in their jurisdictions to access the funding. 
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) would be responsible for certifying that Complete Streets policies meet minimum requirements set out by the United States Secretary of Transportation. 
  • The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, States, and MPOs would be required to adopt design standards for federal surface transportation projects that provide for the safe and adequate accommodation of all users of the surface transportation network, including motorized and non-motorized users, in all phases of project planning, development, and operation. 

“We’ve spent decades now designing our streets to move cars as quickly as possible while neglecting the safety of everyone using the street. The result? The number of people struck and killed by drivers while walking increased by 35 percent over the last decade,” said Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. “The federal government must take the lead on prioritizing safer streets, and the Complete Streets Act of 2019 represents the best, most direct effort yet to help states, metro areas, cities, towns and counties design and build safer, complete streets. I applaud Senator Markey and Congressman Cohen’s leadership on this important legislation.” 

“Via is proud to support Senator Markey’s and Congressman Cohen’s Complete Streets Act of 2019,” said Andrei Greenawalt, Head of Public Policy for Via. “As the leader in providing on-demand public transit, Via believes that designing our streets to encourage sustainable forms of transportation is critical to eliminating congestion, reducing the emission of harmful pollutants, expanding economic mobility, and making our communities more livable.”  

“We commend Senator Markey and Representative Cohen on pursuing this important issue. Since day one, Lyft has been committed to redesigning cities around people instead of cars. This is why we focus on making car ownership optional, investing in sustainable transportation options, and partnering with like-minded organizations through the Complete Streets Coalition. We're proud to support the Complete Streets Bill and the valuable impact it would have on improving road and pedestrian safety in cities across the country.” -- Lauren Belive, Director of Federal Government Affairs at Lyft. 

“By embracing shared and sustainable modes of transportation, such as electric scooters and electric bicycles, cities can be less congested and polluted,” said Danielle Burr, head of Uber Federal Affairs. "'Complete Streets' allow for all users, wherever they live and whatever their income, to have access to affordable, reliable transportation.”