Advocates in New York have not stopped fighting for a statewide complete streets bill (A8587-B/SB5711-B) that would require that pedestrian and cyclist accommodations be considered in the planning, design, and construction of all road projects receiving state or federal funds.
The state legislature’s extended session ended in August with the bill in limbo; it was passed by the State Senate with a bipartisan majority, but never came to a vote in the State Assembly and is stuck in the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. However, it now appears that state legislators will return to Albany at some point in the next month to deal with federal education aid. Advocates are calling on lawmakers to pass complete streets during this session.
In yesterday’s Albany Times-Union, AARP New York executive committee member Robert O’Connell called on the Assembly to pass the bill, pointing out that pedestrian accommodations are often lacking for older New Yorkers, who have a particular need to get around on foot; nearly 20 percent of New York’s population will be over 65 by 2025. Earlier this month, AARP members sent over 2,000 faxes and e-mails to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office asking that the Assembly bring the bill to a vote. This morning, Tri-State and the NY State Transportation Equity Alliance also called on the speaker to take action, saying that “designing our roads in a way that assures the health and safety of all users… is a crucial step to assure transportation equity across the state.”
TSTC’s website now includes an updated action alert for New Yorkers to e-mail their representatives and Assembly leadership, at www.tstc.org/saferstreetsnow/. The special session may be the last chance to pass a complete streets bill in 2010. Unless another special session is called later in the year, state legislators will not return to Albany until January. The new legislative year would send the Complete Streets bill back to square one, meaning it would have to be reintroduced, passed through committees, and voted on in both the Senate and Assembly again.