Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pedaling legislation

SB 145, the "Complete Streets" bill introduced by Sen. Katie Stine, has been sent to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee for further consideration before any possible action by the full Senate. This makes sense, given that any bill in this legislative session must withstand concerns about whether it will cost our cash-strapped state any money. Sen. Stine anticipated this concern by removing from this bill any mandate that the Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) spend any money to make roads more accommodating to bicyclists or pedestrians. Instead, SB 145 merely insists that the Cabinet "fully consider" looking out for our needs. If their consideration leads them to believe that accommodating non-motorized users would unacceptably increase the cost of a road project, they need not spend any money on our behalf.

What, then, makes SB 145 worthy of our support?
  • It makes the consideration of facilities for bicycling and walking a state law, rather than an obscure and often overlooked internal policy of the Transportation Cabinet.
  • It requires the Cabinet to file an annual report listing the roadways built or rebuilt, along with the reasons for not including pedestrian or bicycle facilities in any roadways built without them. This provides public accountability not currently present.
  • It is acquainting the legislature with the concept of Complete Streets, making it easier for us to find supporters for a stronger bill later.
  • It shows our appreciation for Sen. Stine's initiative and willingness to take a legislative risk, making it more likely that we can work with her for future bicycling and walking improvements.
  • It gives us the opportunity to urge our Senators and Representatives to amend SB 145 to make it stronger.
Again, with a simple call to a toll-free number, you can support SB 145. Call the Legislative Message line at (800) 372-7181 and leave a message for all Senators to support SB 145, the Complete Streets bill. If you have a bit more time to invest, click this link to e-mail Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Sen. Charlie Borders urging that the committee hear testimony on SB 145 and report favorably on it, sending it back to the full Senate for action. Note that SB 145 will encourage the Transportation Cabinet to make new and rebuilt roads safely usable by all Kentuckians, and provide the Commonwealth with great financial benefits in terms of improved public health higher productivity, and more tourism.

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