Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keep working toward Complete Streets

At the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC last week, I learned about the "Complete Streets Act of 2008" (S. 2686) pending before the U.S. Senate. Like our Kentucky bill, SB 145, it would represent a significant step forward. I'll tell you about it in my next post. For now, here's an update on Kentucky SB 145. Given that it typically takes 7 years to get a bill through the US Congress, we should not pass up an opportunity to institute a state law that can improve conditions for bicycling and walking.

On Feb. 27, SB 145 was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue (A&R) Committee, where it appears to have sat uneventfully. Given the tight budgetary times, I presume that some A&R Committee members would feel content to let the bill die in committee for fear that passing it would require Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to spend more money. SB 145 merely requires KYTC to "fully consider" providing for bicyclists and pedestrians when planning and designing roadways, and to report on those considerations. The bill, as written, has negligible budgetary impact.

Merely including consideration of bicyclists' and pedestrians' needs in KYTC's routine roadway planning and design process would constitute a step forward. In many cases, they would find that the they could safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians without spending more money. In other cases, they would find that a very small additional investment (say, 1% of the project budget) would yield a roadway that makes driving safer and more convenient while providing safe space for bicyclists and pedestrians. None of that can happen without routine consideration of the needs of non-motorized travelers. The annual report required by SB 145 would enable citizens to learn how frequently that consideration took place, how frequently KYTC acted on it, and whether their actions adequately addressed our needs.

I just called the Kentucky Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181 and left the following message for all members of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, along with Sen. Katie Stine:
"Support SB 145 (Complete Streets). Kentucky Transportation Cabinet can implement this policy within its existing road budget. SB 145 is an essential step toward creating a transportation network that serves all Kentuckians well."

I included Sen. Stine so she can see this message in favor of her bill. I urge you to make a similar call to encourage A&R Committee members to send SB 145 back to the Senate floor with a favorable recommendation. With a few days left in this legislative session, the legislature can still take this opportunity to move Kentucky toward Complete Streets.

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