More on the benefits of "complete streets"

As I wrote here yesterday, Senator Tom Harkin has introduced The Complete Streets Act of 2008, which would

work to promote the design of streets that are safe for all of those using the street- including motorists, bus riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians, including people with disabilities.  Between 1993 and 2003, nearly 52,000 pedestrians and more than 7,400 bicyclists were killed in road accidents; studies show that the designing streets with pedestrians in mind may reduce pedestrian risk by as much as 28 percent.

More information about this issue can be found at the Complete the Streets website.

In related news, I read in the Smart Growth America newsletter that four pilot programs aimed at promoting bicycling and walking for short trips were found to significantly reduce vehicle-miles traveled, and therefore carbon-dioxide emissions, in the communities:

“This report just goes to show that, for many travelers, the automobile is not always the mode of choice, and that safe and convenient options will lead them to use their bicycles or their feet to get around,” says Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman. Adds Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, “This program, and its legacy, will change the face of transportation in communities across the country. Its contribution, and that of walking and bicycling, to the nation’s fight against global warming will be notable.”

Reducing vehicle-miles traveled is an essential part of any comprehensive strategy to combat global warming. Otherwise gains from more efficient vehicles or better fuel sources could be wiped out as Americans continue to drive more miles per capita.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 would cover a projected shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund by taking money away from public transportation projects. Is there any policy this president doesn’t get wrong? We already devote way too little funding to public transit compared to road-building.

  • Again, more bike paths!

    I am all for this.  It is sometimes a frightening experience riding a country road when cars zoom past you at 50+ mph.  It also takes a skilled rider to ride safely on the streets of urban areas and downtown Des Moines.  It would be nice if there were bikeways on Des Moines’s streets, like there are on some roads in Chicago.  I know a few people who would agree with me on this and who would ride their bikes into work if it were not so dangerous.

    • absolutely

      and it is much more cost-effective to put bike lanes on existing roads than it is to build new bike paths.

      I think a lot of people would bike to work (weather permitting) if it were safer for them to do so.

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