Congressmen Cohen, Espaillat and Gallego and Senator Markey Reintroduce Complete Streets Act

February 24, 2021
Press Release
Goal is making all forms of street transportation safer

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), and Congressmen Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) today introduced the Complete Streets Act, legislation that would promote safer and more accessible transportation routes across the United States.

A “complete street” is one designed to provide safe and accessible transportation options for multiple modes of travel, as well as for people of all ages and abilities. “Complete streets” can accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users, not just cars and freight vehicles. A “complete street” is also safe for children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities. The Complete Streets Act would require states set aside a portion of their federal highway funding to create a grant program that will fund “complete streets” projects to make transit routes safer and more accessible. 

Through this program, eligible local and regional entities can apply for technical assistance and capital funding to build safe streets projects, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops. 

“The United States is facing a national safety crisis,” said Congressman Cohen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles, especially in Memphis. We need streets that can accommodate all means of transportation, from foot traffic and strollers to bicycles, cars, light trucks and 18-wheelers. The grants that will be made under the Complete Streets Act will transform communities and make it safer for everyone to travel.” 

Congressman Cohen hosted a roundtable discussion with local and state stakeholders on the Complete Streets Act in Memphis in October 2019.

“Year after year of increasing fatalities demand that we make significant investments to ensure safety for all users of the road,” said Senator Markey. “At the same time, these investments present an enormous opportunity to lead the world into a new era of more accessible and climate-friendly transportation. By fostering ‘complete’ streets, we will foster complete communities – ones with less reliance on gas-guzzling cars, greater safety, and more equity in everyone’s ability to access to work, school, and other critical services. I thank Congressman Cohen for his partnership on this essential legislation.”

“Street safety is critical to the overall health and wellness of our neighborhoods and communities,” said Representative Espaillat. “As residents continue to seek alternative forms of transportation, and especially during the ongoing challenges communities face amid COVID-19, the Complete Streets Act will help ensure our streets are safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers by taking measures to help save lives.”

“We need to make our communities friendly to all types of transportation, including biking, walking, and public transit,” said Representative Gallego. “Not only will it make our streets safer, but it will spur our local economies, improve public health, and help our environment. This bill is an all-around win that will help increase safety and create vibrant, accessible, sustainable communities in Phoenix and nationwide.”

Under the Complete Streets Act

  • States would be required to set aside five percent of their federal highway funding to create a “Complete Streets” program.  
  • To access the funds, eligible entities would need to adopt a Complete Streets policy, participate in technical assistance, and create a prioritized plan for Complete Streets projects in their jurisdictions.
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) would be responsible for certifying that Complete Streets policies meet minimum requirements set out by the United States Secretary of Transportation. 
  • The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, States, and MPOs would be required to adopt design standards for federal surface transportation projects that provide for the safe and adequate accommodation of all users of the surface transportation network, including motorized and non-motorized users, in all phases of project planning, development, and operation. 

Support for the Complete Streets Act:

“Federal transportation policy incentivizes states to make every street—even a community road lined with businesses and homes—a high-speed thoroughfare. As a result, the number of people struck and killed while walking is skyrocketing,” said Scott Goldstein, policy director of Transportation for America. “The Complete Streets Act is a huge step towards reversing these perverse incentives by reallocating existing funding and empowering cities and towns to design streets that keep everybody safe. We are pleased to support this important legislation again this year.”

“Every American, whether they bike, walk, drive, or take transit, should be able to use our roads safely,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “The League of American Bicyclists applauds Sen. Markey and Rep. Cohen for re-introducing the Complete Streets Act and we are proud to support the bill because we believe that when more people choose to ride bikes, communities are stronger and our nation is healthier. This bill would ensure new roads are built for the safety and benefit of everyone, however they get around, plus it would help communities fix existing roads to consider the needs of all residents. We look forward to working with Sen. Markey and Rep. Cohen to advance this important legislation.”

“We are grateful for Senator Markey and Congressman Cohen’s continued leadership on the issue of Complete Streets,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance. “The ongoing COVID 19 crisis has demonstrated the need to fundamentally rethink our streets. In response, dozens of cities and towns across Massachusetts implement tactical changes to curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces to create safe spaces for outdoor dining, safe connections to businesses and workplaces and expanded space for buses, bikes and people walking. Continuing to reshape the ways we use our streets hasn't just been critical in the response to COVID it will be a fundamental piece of our long-term recovery as a Nation.” 

“It's critical to embrace shared and sustainable modes of transportation to ensure cities are safe, accessible, and equitable – especially as we adapt to the unique mobility challenges brought on by the pandemic,” said Danielle Burr, head of federal affairs at Uber. “Uber is proud to support the Complete Streets Act, which will allow for all users to have access to affordable and reliable transportation.”

“Via is proud to support Senator Markey's and Congressman Cohen's Complete Streets Act of 2021 and thanks them for their leadership,” said Andrei Greenawalt, head of public policy for Via. “We partner with 200 cities, transit agencies, and transportation providers across the globe to improve public mobility, and believe that designing our streets to encourage sustainable forms of transportation is critical to making our communities more equitable, livable, and accessible. Complete streets programs will also help us eliminate congestion and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants.”

“Lyft is proud to support the Complete Streets Act,” said Danielle Aviles Krueger, head of federal policy at Lyft. “Since our founding, Lyft has been committed to supporting cities designed around people, not cars, by investing in multimodal, sustainable transportation and partnering with organizations through the Complete Streets Coalition. The ability to get around a city in a healthy, safe and affordable way is more important than ever. We applaud Senator Markey and Representative Cohen for introducing legislation that promotes the development of more equitable and accessible infrastructure.”

"Residents in cities and towns across Massachusetts deserve accessible sidewalks, safe bike lanes, upgraded transit infrastructure, and the economic vibrancy and public health benefits that come when our streets are designed for people and not just cars,” said Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “The Complete Streets Act would ensure that the federal government plays a larger role in assisting state and local governments with these kinds of upgrades in every state in the country.”

The Complete Streets Act is endorsed by: Uber, Lyft, Via, Transportation for America, Transportation for Massachusetts, League of American Bicyclists, Active Transportation Alliance, Safe Routes to School Partnership, Livable Streets Alliance, and The National Complete Streets Coalition (Steering Committee members of the Complete Streets Coalition include 3M, AECOM, America Walks, American Public Health Association, American Public Transportation Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, City of Orlando Transportation Department, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Lyft, Michael Baker International, MIG, National Association of City Transportation Officials, National Association of Realtors, Nelson\Nygaard, S&ME, Smart Growth America, SRAM, Stantec, and American Heart Association).

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