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Wednesday, 09 February 2011
BikeTexas is excited to announce that Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) filed identical Complete Streets bills on February 3 at the Texas Legislature. The language for SB 513 and HB 1105 can be viewed here.
The bill will strengthen requirements for inclusion of accommodations for cyclists, pedestrians, persons with disabilities, the elderly, children and other users during the planning and implementation of road and street construction projects using federal or state funding. BikeTexas has been working closely to craft language for this bill with both Senator Ellis and Representative Harper-Brown and their staffs, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, health organizations and many other interested stakeholders.
"Traffic congestion has become such a problem, especially in urban areas, that we have no choice but to consider alternative forms of transportation like bicycles, mass transit and walking," said Senator Ellis.
Traffic congestion mitigation is especially important in high-population urban areas, such as Senator Ellis’ district, which includes the city of Houston. Separating modes of transportation will decrease traffic congestion by creating areas channelized by speed, such as protected bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks, which help ensure pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists can all travel safely and efficiently.
Increased physical activity is another benefit of Complete Streets. Creating a network of roads that are accessible and safe for cyclists and pedestrians encourages everyone to be active while getting where they need to go. Obesity is a huge problem for many Texans, and for the state as a whole. According to the state Comptroller's Office, obesity-related business costs, including the cost of insurance and loss of productivity due to health-related illnesses, are projected to hurt the economy by $30 billion per year by 2030.
Representative Harper-Brown recognizes the broad positive impacts this bill could have across the state. "The complete streets bill is a comprehensive approach to transportation planning that will address a number of issues facing Texans, such as traffic congestion, the health and efficiency of the Texas workforce, childhood and adult obesity, and roads that are dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians," said Representative Harper-Brown.
"Complete Streets may be the most effective legislation to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians that BikeTexas has promoted in its twenty years of work at the legislature. Passing it would be one of our proudest achievements," said Robin Stallings, Executive Director of BikeTexas.
BikeTexas will remain on the front lines this legislative session to get this critical legislation passed. Join Now to help support these crucial efforts! We will keep you informed on the progress of the Complete Streets bill as it makes its way through committee hearings. Visit BikeTexas.org/CompleteStreets for all the latest information.