In 2013, Parks & Trails New York was instrumental in forming a new coalition, New Yorkers for Active Transportation (NY4AT), dedicated to improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians and establishing a dedicated state funding source for active transportation infrastructure, including bike lanes, multi-use trails, and sidewalks. In 2016, the coalition celebrated a major victory after the United States Department of Transportation announced that more than $207 million of expired earmarks would be available to New York State to spend on transportation projects, with more than $14 million of these expired earmarks repurposed for trail projects in Rochester, Syracuse, and Long Island. For many years, PTNY has continued its advocacy in favor of increased funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and in support of legislation to improve safety for vulnerable roadway users.
The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, largely as a result of a systemic reliance on personal motor vehicles. The most sustainable way to reduce these emissions is by designing our communities to prioritize safe travel by foot or alternative methods. A reduction in motor vehicle miles traveled can have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
Adding to the urgency is the staggeringly high rate at which pedestrians and bicyclists in New York State and across the country are injured or killed by drivers. The harm inflicted by motor vehicle crashes on communities is one of our nation’s most pressing public health crises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people around the state took to walking and bicycling as a way to relieve stress and avoid congested areas. These increases laid bare the challenges that pedestrians and cyclists face in navigating through communities without a car. Both short- and long-term changes are needed to ensure that roadways and intersections are made safer for all users.
- Prioritize transportation mode shifts and quality transportation alternatives as a method of reducing the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in New York State.
- Establish safe connections between communities and disconnected trail networks through the development of on-road bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
- Support efforts to create a coherent bike culture, and embrace a bike-friendly ethos across New York State, helping attract bicycle tourists and support local economies.
- Implement a statewide Vision Zero campaign to eliminate bicycle and pedestrian fatalities and create safer and more accessible cycling for riders of all ages and abilities
Close the Complete Streets loophole
Support S.1549A to strengthen the New York State Complete Streets Act, passed in 2011, by closing a loophole that exempts maintenance and resurfacing projects, which account for most roadway projects.
Enact a three-foot safe passing requirement
Support A.547 to require motorists to give bicyclists three feet of space when overtaking from behind.
Allow municipalities to protect all street users by lowering speed limits
Support S.2021/A.1007 to amend the Vehicle and Traffic Law and enable New York municipalities to lower area speed limits below 30 miles per hour without needing State Legislative approval.
Focus efforts to reduce the carbon impact of the transportation sector on shifting modes from driving to bicycling and walking
Incorporate funding mechanisms for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and advance policies that support greater use of non-motorized transportation into climate change resiliency planning.
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS
Commit to a statewide Vision Zero policy
Set a goal and outline specific steps for reducing all roadway fatalities to zero by 2030 or sooner.
Support roadway safety demonstration projects by simplifying permitting processes
Streamline state permitting and approval processes for temporary changes to roadway infrastructure designed to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of bicycle and pedestrian safety projects.
Dedicate transportation funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects
Require a certain percentage of state transportation funding go towards bicycle and pedestrian projects and/or establish a dedicated state funding source for active transportation infrastructure.
Clarify language in the e-bikes legislation to make requirements and eligibility more explicit
Eliminate provisions within the legislation that effectively prohibit the legal use of e-bikes on most state roads, and consider a “opt-out” model for e-bikes on trails, as opposed to the current “opt-in” model.