We congratulate Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) for introducing the Safe and Friendly for the Environment (SAFE) Streets Act. H.R. 3040 would help make sure that federal safety funds are directed towards projects that make walking and rolling safer.
Rates of bicycle and pedestrian deaths are now at their highest level since 1990, with more than 6,500 people walking and rolling killed in 2017. This is more than 18 percent of all traffic fatalities. And risks are higher for people of color and low-income people. In spite of these startling statistics, states spend less than one percent of the $2.3 billion dedicated to transportation safety on active transportation safety improvements.
The legislation proposed by Reps. Brownley and Espaillat would ensure that safety dollars make their way to local communities that face high rates of vulnerable user deaths (which would include people walking, biking, or using wheelchairs or mobility devices). With these funds, local governments would be able to put in sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, lighting, traffic calming, and other critical safety improvements that are proven to protect the lives of people walking and rolling. We know that local governments all across the county are aware of these safety risks and are working to mitigate them – they just need additional safety dollars to make them happen.
The SAFE Streets Act would:
- Require the US Department of Transportation to calculate the fatality rates for vulnerable users in MPO areas, tribal areas, and any other part of the state.
- If an area’s vulnerable user fatality rate is above 1.5 deaths per 100,000 people (the national average), the State DOT would be required to spend a portion of their Highway Safety Improvement Program money in that area to improve safety for vulnerable users. The State DOT would be required to work with local governments to determine which projects should be implemented.
- The amount of money required to be spent in that area would be calculated based on the percentage that area’s vulnerable user deaths are of the state’s overall transportation deaths.
The Safe Routes Partnership is proud to endorse this legislation, and we are pleased to be partnering with the League of American Bicyclists to push for HR 3040’s inclusion in the next transportation bill.