HB 1105, better known as the Complete Streets bill, was heard in the House Transportation Committee Wednesday, March 16.
Authored by committee member Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving), the bill would ensure new road construction and reconstruction projects consider all road users in their design — meaning cyclists, pedestrians, bus riders and the disabled — not just motorists.
Examples of such design might include bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks and space for busses to stop without impeding the flow of traffic.
“These policies will reduce congestion on our roadways, make roads safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, people who are disabled, children and the elderly,” Harper-Brown said. “It’s a good policy for traffic congestion, the economy, and the health and safety of our state and its residents.”
During expert testimony, the bill author fielded questions from committee members.
Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) asked if the Complete Streets bill would reach all the way down to the neighborhood street level. Darby expressed concerns that the bill would cause a sidewalk to be installed on every front lawn.
In fact, the legislation only applies to road projects that use state or federal funding, and it only applies to new construction or significant reconstruction.
Another committee member inquired about the costs associated with the bill. The bill does not have a fiscal note attached, meaning the Legislative Budget Board has determined there will be no fiscal impact to implement the bill.
Harper-Brown explained that the cost of accommodating bikes and pedestrians is very low when the infrastructure is included at the outset of the project design.
“If the costs to comply with the bill would be disproportionate [to the project,] then that can be considered so that they don’t have to do a complete streets policy,” Harper-Brown said.
Four experts testified in favor of the bill. Among them was Denton City Councilmember Dalton Gregory, who also serves on the mobility committee.
“We need to make the best use of our city’s limited street capacity,” Gregory said. “Walking and bicycling can be alternatives to driving and can improve access and safety.”
Gregory pointed out that complete streets will improve air quality because they result in more cyclists and walkers and less auto emissions. They also reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Gregory gave the example of
“If you build it — they will come. That happens in communities where facilities are built for bicyclists,” Gregory said.
Also speaking in favor of the bill were BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings; AARP Associate State Director for Advocacy Tim Morstad; and Policy Coordinator for Texans Care for Children Lauren Dimitry, who also represented the Partnership for a Healthy Texas.
The bill was left pending in committee.
To watch testimony of the committee hearing, visit http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/committee-archives/player/?session=82&committee=470&ram=11031608470 .
Bill HB 1105 is heard at the 1 hour 22 minute mark.
You must install Real Player to watch: http://www.real.com/realplayer/search/share-videos