Monday, July 18, 2016

SGA: A proposed rule at USDOT could support safer streets. Will it?

Tell USDOT: Build inclusive and safe transportation options for all users

For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Transportation has released new requirements for how states and metro areas will have to measure traffic congestion. These new requirements will help us all understand what federal transportation dollars actually accomplish—an absolutely worthwhile goal. 
However, as it's currently written the proposal would measure success in outdated ways, prioritizing fast driving speeds over the needs of other transportation users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Our roadways should be designed and operated to enable safe access for all users — regardless of how they travel each day.
Tell USDOT to improve its proposed rule. Add your name to our petition and we'll hand deliver it straight to the desk of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The Honorable Anthony Foxx
U.S. Department of Transportation
West Building, Room W12-140
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE.
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:

Communities across the United States have passed Complete Streets policies — more than 975 in total so far – all with the aim of making streets safer and more convenient for everyone regardless of age, race, ability, or how they chose to travel. I know these issues are a priority for you as well: The Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets is a clear commitment to keeping people safe on all modes of travel. Your Ladders of Opportunity program is another outstanding example of your commitment to a better USDOT. Addressing transportation investments that divide communities rather than unite them will improve access to opportunity and help create safer, more inclusive transportation options for everyone.

In light of your commitments to safety and opportunity, I am alarmed by the proposed rulemaking in Docket No. FHWA-2013-0054, which establishes performance measures for the National Highway System, freight movement on the Interstate system, congestion, and on-road mobile source emissions. As proposed, this rule would require states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to measure vehicle speed and reliability in seven ways but would not account for operational or investment priorities for other transportation users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

The proposed rule’s overreliance on vehicle speed is out of step with federal statute, which requires states and MPOs to provide safe transportation options for all users of the National Highway System (see section 1404(a)(1)(A)(i) of the FAST Act). The proposed rule would also encourage states and MPOs to focus on removing vehicle delay in all communities, regardless of context. This would inevitably result in capacity expansion projects with higher posted speed limits even in communities where these options would be inappropriate. Wider roads and higher vehicle speeds undermine a community’s economic vitality, result in more dangerous conditions for all users – especially for people walking and biking – and support the creation of new barriers that restrict access to opportunity.

Therefore, I recommend that the final rule ensure all transportation users are provided safe and healthy access on our roadways by amending the National Highway System performance measures and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program traffic congestion measure accounts for all transportation users including people driving, walking, bicycling, or taking transit.

As someone once said, "We measure what we treasure." I value transportation investments that keep people safe, encourage health, and support economic opportunity for everyone. I know you share these values. Please improve the proposed rule to reflect these issues. Thank you for all your work to deliver an equitable, healthy transportation system for the American people, and I look forward to working with you to finalize this important program before the end of this Administration.

[The undersigned]


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