WGXC-90.7 FM

Assembly budget includes money for bikes and pedestrians too

Mar 18, 2016 12:03 am
Click here to play or download an audio version of this report.

Andrea Sears reports from New York News Connection for Public News Service that transportation safety advocates are applauding the Assembly budget bill for dedicating $20 million to improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Five years ago, the state passed "Complete Streets," a measure intended to help communities build walking and cycling infrastructure, such as sidewalks, bike lanes and multi-use trails.

Bill Ferris, New York state Legislative representative of AARP, says that was a good first step, and the dedicated funding will help fix what still is a major problem.

"New York state had the third highest pedestrian death rate of people 65 and older, and New York state ranked worst in the nation for pedestrian/bicycle safety," says Ferris.

Twenty-seven percent of all traffic fatalities in New York are pedestrians or bicyclists.

The Senate's proposed budget does not contain the dedicated funding but advocates are hopeful it could be included in the final budget that is due April 1.

Pedestrian safety is a big issue for seniors. Ferris points to a 2014 AARP survey that found many New Yorkers age 50 and older cite traffic safety issues as problems in their communities.

"We think this money will go a long way toward making communities more livable," says Ferris. "Especially with designing roads and sidewalks to help people navigate in their own community."

Governor Andrew Cuomo has not weighed in on the proposed budget allocation, but AARP believes it would be consistent with his strong support for improving infrastructure across the state.