Friday, February 19, 2010

Transportation Bill: Could cost up to $500 billion...

Hubsmith Speaks at DOT Meeting on the 2010 Federal Transportation Bill: Improving Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

Can Create Safe and Livable Communities All Across America

Los Angeles: Today, Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, is a panelist at the safety session at the US DOT transportation bill reauthorization outreach session in Los Angeles. Read her comments here.

The outreach meeting is being hosted by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Senator Boxer, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee which is charged with drafting the Senate version of the transportation bill. The federal government is holding these outreach sessions to help craft the next big federal transportation bill, which could cost up to $500 billion and provides funding to states for highways, transit, bikeways and bridges.

In her panelist remarks which will be given in the afternoon, Deb points out that issues with bicycle and pedestrian safety are rooted in how we allocate transportation dollars at the national level. Nationwide, just 1.2 percent of funds authorized under the federal transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, have been allocated for projects to improve the safety of walking and bicycling, even though pedestrians and bicyclists comprise 13 percent of all traffic deaths and 12 percent of total trips. This safety issue has become so extreme because in the United States, the design of streets and roads has largely ignored human factors, including considerations for how pedestrians and bicyclists can cross the street and travel to designations like schools, shopping, and work places. Now there is an increasing recognition that we need a sea of change in how our roadways are designed – we need to create complete streets and safe routes to school.

Deb calls for increased investment in Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and Active Transportation Networks, and makes policy recommendations about the need for a fair share for safety, access to transit and complete streets. She points out the need for improved design guidelines, reduced speeds, and increased leadership at national, state and local levels. She also shows how investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure have increased use of these modes while also vastly improving safety and livability of communities.

Hubsmith says, “The cornerstone to livability in America is creating safe communities where people can walk and bicycle. An indicator for livability is – can our children can walk or bicycle to schools? Active transportation is critical to increasing levels of healthy exercise and reducing obesity and heart disease. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership looks forward to working with the US DOT, Congress, the President and the First Lady on developing a transportation agenda that will create a safe and healthy America.”