Federal legislation would require more highway funding to go toward bike lanes, bus stops and street safety improvements. (Shutterstock)

Federal legislation would require more highway funding to go toward bike lanes, bus stops and street safety improvements. (Shutterstock)

Federal legislation would direct more money toward street safety

Safe street infrastructure might soon become a national priority, pending passage of a federal bill that would require states to set aside some highway funding for projects such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks and bus stops.

Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee introduced the Complete Streets Act on Wednesday in an effort to provide safe and accessible transportation routes for multiple modes of travel across the country.

If passed, it would require states to take 5 percent of their federal highway money and instead give it to regional or local agencies seeking to create alternative transportation networks for people of all ages and abilities through street safety efforts, pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, transit stop upgrades and other improvements.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, for example, would apply through the state for access to funds to use on eligible projects for technical assistance and capital improvements.

“Year after year of increasing fatalities demand that we make significant investments to ensure safety for all users of the road,” Markey said in a statement. “By fostering ‘complete streets,’ we will foster complete communities — ones with less reliance on gas-guzzling cars, greater safety and more equity in everyone’s ability to access work, school and other critical services.”

Millions of dollars flow from Washington D.C. to California each year designated for highways, the product of a decades-old formula that critics say encourages the construction of polluting, car-centric roadways as opposed to sustainable modes of transportation.

While San Francisco was the second city in the country to sign on to the Vision Zero pledge to eliminate fatalities and reduce severe injuries caused by traffic violence, it continues to face stubbornly persistent rates of driver-related collisions on city streets. Over the last 15 years, at least 20 people have been killed each year due to traffic violence.

Last year, 30 people were killed, marking an increase from the year prior even as the 2024 Vision Zero deadline fast approaches.

Simply put: The City is not on track to meet its goals.

SFMTA points to the success of low cost, high-impact interventions — including turn restrictions, protected bike lanes, sidewalk bulb-outs, more visible crosswalks and education campaigns that curb reckless driving behavior — as proof that its approach can be effective.

But such undertakings require money, as do potentially more effective but more costly measures such as red light cameras, which can be tough to come by in a moment where budget austerity is of the utmost importance to recover from the pandemic.

Erica Kato, SFMTA spokesperson, said the agency is evaluating what the proposed legislation could mean for local efforts to improve street safety.

“We are reviewing the legislation to understand potential impacts but conceptually are strongly supportive of proposals that recognize the need to fund complete street efforts in cities like San Francisco that are critical to achieving our Vision Zero goals,” she said.

Bay Area NewsCaliforniaPoliticsTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Health care workers in the intensive care unit at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, with Alejandro Balderas, a 44-year-old patient who later died. Even in California, a state with a coronavirus vaccination rate well above average, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. (Isadora Kosofsky/The New York Times)
Why COVID took off in California, again

‘The good news is: The vaccines are working’

Lake Oroville stood at 33 percent full and 40 percent of historical average when this photograph was taken on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Tribune News Service)
A kayaker on the water at Lake Oroville, which stands at 33 percent full and 40 percent of historical average when this photograph was taken on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Oroville, Calif. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Tribune News Service)
Facing ‘dire water shortages,’ California bans Delta pumping

By Rachel Becker CalMatters In an aggressive move to address “immediate and… Continue reading

Students practice identifying species in the school garden at Verde Elementary in Richmond during summer camp. (Photo courtesy of Verde Elementary)
Reading, writing and bike riding: How schools spent summer helping students recover from pandemic

By Sydney Johnson EdSource Bicycles typically aren’t allowed on the blacktop at… Continue reading

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission launched a pilot program that offers up to 90 percent discounts on water and sewer bills for eligible customers. (Andri Tambunan/Special to ProPublica)
How does 90% off your water bill sound? Here’s who qualifies

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission announced this week it is launching… Continue reading

Most Read