With gas prices soaring, Nadine Lemmon believes the time has come for Complete Streets.
Lemmon is the Albany legislative advocate for the New York State Transportation Equity Alliance; the group is part of a coalition that wants the state to pass Complete Streets legislation, requiring roadway design to consider the needs of cyclists, mass-transit users and pedestrians, as well as cars.
“We want to reprioritize highway funds to emphasize public transit as opposed to roads and bridges,” Lemmon said. “We need to make sure there are good transportation choices out there. Not everybody can afford a car. Not everybody can drive. People need to be able to walk safely across the street to get a gallon of milk. We want to make sure the streets are safe for everyone.”
At 7 p.m. on Thursday Lemmon will give a presentation on Complete Streets at the George E. Hanner Chapel and Cultural Center at the LaSalle School in Albany. The event is sponsored by the Albany Bicycle Coalition and the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association.
“We want people to be aware of what Complete Streets means,” said Lorenz Worden, a member of the Albany Bicycle Coalition. “We want people who come to the presentation to fall in love with Complete Streets as a concept.”
Worden said a proposal to redesign Madison Avenue in Albany is a good example of an effort to bring Complete Streets to Albany — or at least part of Albany.
The project would shrink the four-lane road to two lanes and create a center turning lane with the idea of calming traffic, reducing the number of accidents on the street and improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Last fall the Albany Common Council passed a resolution supporting the project.
Worden said cars drive too fast on Madison Avenue, and that shrinking the road will slow vehicles down and make the street safer for everyone.
“Streets are not for cars only,” Worden said. “They’re for everyone. We all use them, whether we’re riding on a bus or biking or walking. The streets belong to the general population. They’re not funded by motor vehicles.”
Lemmon said that some communities, such as Buffalo, have adopted such legislation.
But NYSTEA would prefer that the state simply pass the Complete Streets legislation, rather than a piecemeal approach that see some communities implementing policies and others deciding not to consider them.
“Local communities are really taking the bull by the horn,” Lemmon said. “But there really needs to be a state law.”
Lemmon said younger adults are less enthusiastic about cars.
“A lot of kids aren’t driving cars,” she said. “They don’t want the hassle of a car and they want to live in a community where they can walk to school. The problem is that we haven’t quite built the infrastructure for that.”