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Earlier this week, numerous U.S. Senators and Representatives from around the country requested the U.S. Department of Transportation change its rule on performance measures to include people, not just cars.

The letter, signed by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), among others, asks that the Department of Transportation change its rules regarding congestion and freight performance measures.

“The members have requested that the agency changes the rule to assess the movement of people, rather than vehicles, which would ensure that performance measures accurately and appropriately assess the congestion relief provided by transit vehicles, bike lanes, High-Occupancy Toll lanes, and other congestion relief techniques,” reads a press release put out by Senator Tom Carper, of Delaware.

The letter was sent to Anthony Foxx, who heads up the Department of Transportation. The Legislators who signed the letter made a particular note that the DOT should address all road users – and focus on their safety, not speed.

To justify highway projects, roads on the National Highway System have to meet certain performance measures. Not meeting those performance measures justifies improvements for one way or another. In the FAST Act Congress made clear that states must consider all modes and users in the building and reconstruction of NHS projects.The Federal Highway Administration’s proposed performance measures are based on motor vehicle issues such as delay of drivers – not on the accessibility for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

These legislators are looking for multi-modal performance measures, which would be a big step forward.

“How we measure performance and outcomes directly affects the choice of investments that will be made. If we focus, as this proposed rule does, on keeping traffic moving at high speeds at all times of day on all types of roads and streets, then the result is easy to predict: States and MPOs will prioritize investments to increase average speeds for cars, at the expense of goals to provide safe, reliable, environmentally-sensitive, multimodal transportation options for all users of the transportation system, despite those goals being stated in federal statute,” the members wrote. “Encouraging faster speeds on roadways undermines the safety of roads for all road users, as well as the economic vitality of our communities.”

Many thanks to the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) campaign to comment on the NHS performance measures. A large number of the 5000+ comments received were in response to the bicycle and pedestrian issue. We encourage everyone to still submit comments on NHS performance measures using LAB’s Take Action Page.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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