[UPDATE: Gov. Cuomo has signed the bill.]
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that he would sign a Complete Streets bill (S5411.A/A8366) that will make roads safer. The move was hailed by advocates because it will save lives and encourage walking and cycling, leading to environmental and public health benefits. Hundreds of New Yorkers are killed while walking and biking each year.
In a statement, Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Kate Slevin said that “Whether young or old; on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or in a car, everyone is safer when roads are designed so everyone can use them.” She thanked Gov. Cuomo, State Senator Charles Fuschillo, and State Assemblyman David Gantt for their support. Sen. Fuschillo sponsored the bill in the Senate and never stopped working for its passage.
The bill would require that, for all road projects receiving state and federal funds, the agency in charge of the project consider the needs of everyone who uses the roads, using complete streets features such as sidewalks, curb cuts, road diets, and bike lanes.
Signing the legislation also fulfills a campaign pledge (as a candidate, Cuomo voiced his support for the concept of Complete Streets in his Cleaner, Greener New York environmental policy platform).
Slevin also said that the announcement was a time to remember Brittany Vega, who was tragically killed last year while walking to school on Sunrise Highway, on Long Island. Brittany’s mother, Sandi Vega, approached Tri-State last year about what she could do to work towards reform. She collected thousands of signatures in support of the legislation and met repeatedly with local and state officials to raise awareness of the bill and other safety measures. In a statement issued through Sen. Fuschillo’s office, Mrs. Vega said that “I’m overjoyed by the knowledge of the impending signing of Complete Streets. I know Brittany is looking over us thinking it’s wonderful that we are helping other families keep their loved ones safe from these busy, congested, dangerous streets. I will sleep a little better knowing that we are moving forward toward making NY a more pedestrian friendly state.
Hundreds of New Yorkers wrote letters of support for the bill through TSTC’s website, and over 60 groups across the state supported the legislation as well.