For the first time, the 2021 National Bike Summit was held virtually, including this year’s Lobby Day that concluded the programming on March 3. Advocates for better and safer biking met with their representatives in Congress to support bike and pedestrian safety, transportation alternatives and complete streets design.
Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to meet Pennsylvania’s Senators and Representatives this year, but we were given the opportunity to discuss issues with Legislative Staff who showed interest in following up with the team. Here’s what we covered:
Strengthen the Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act
To kick off the 2021 asks, we discussed opportunities to strengthen the Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act and to set standards for the Complete Streets Act which we directed to Pennsylvania’s Senators. To review, the Transportation Alternatives program was predicated on the idea that local governments should have decision-making power over a small amount of federal transportation funding for local transportation priorities, such as bike lanes and sidewalks. The proposed bill suggests a few changes to the program to make it more effective and efficient. The changes include increased funding overall, state flexibility, funding for technical and engineering assistance for local government, prioritization of ‘high need’ communities and assurance that local governments have a chance to compete for funds.
The Complete Streets Act of 2021 aims to make our streets safe and accessible for all users. There is no singular design for Complete Streets; each one is unique and responds to its community context. A standard Complete Street may include wide paved shoulders, special bus lanes, narrower travel lanes and bike lanes. The proposed bill would also create a grant program to fix existing roads and make them safer so we could fix dangerous corridors. A prime example of this type of project in Philadelphia is the Spring Garden Street Greenway.
Revise the SAFE Streets Act with cyclists and pedestrian data in mind
A more pressing issue that needs to be addressed is the growing safety problem involving the increased pedestrian and bicyclists fatalities over the last decade. The revised SAFE Streets Act addresses this issue by rethinking the existing formula used to identify ‘hot spots.’ Hot spots are currently defined as locations where a large number of the fatalities are made up of primarily drivers and passengers at intersections and along high speed interstates and rural highways. The revised SAFE Streets Act acknowledges that cyclist and pedestrian fatalities do not cluster in quite the same way. They are more likely to cluster along corridors with limited infrastructure for biking and walking. The proposed bill addresses this issue by ranking states by fatalities and serious injuries, then requiring those above the median to identify dangerous corridors and spend funds to fix them. To put it simply, the Safe Streets Act will collect data on bicyclists and pedestrians to identify these dangerous locations in addition to fatalities made up of drivers and passengers.
We look forward to continuing the conversation as the overall impressions from Legislative Staffers who joined us on Lobby Day were enthusiastic. Staffers showed interest in following up with the team after we discussed the importance of these bills. A big thanks to The League of American Bicyclists for hosting the event and giving us the space to discuss these issues. Be sure to check out the Bike League’s website to learn more about the summit and how you can get involved in the future.