Posted By Anne on June 24, 2011
The genesis of this bill came from a conference titled “Transporting the Public” sponsored by AARP-Vermont and facilitated by the Snelling Center in June 2009.
It recognized the need to provide more transportation options and access for all citizens, making it possible for all citizens using all modes of transportation to get around safely and easily. Complete Streets is about safe crossing for pedestrians, safe roads for bicyclists, and access to public transit. It refers to traffic signal timing, connecting sidewalks with bus stops, keeping crosswalks well-marked, anything to improve access and mobility.
The bill proposes to ensure that “complete streets” principles shall be CONSIDERED in state and municipal transportation planning. This means planners must consider the safety and accommodation of all users regardless of age, ability, or modal preference. Furthermore the consideration of complete streets principles shall follow in all state and locally managed transportation project phases except in the case of unpaved roads.
There are also guidelines for when and which projects may be exempted from this process, e.g. interstate highways, routine maintenance and when the cost is disproportionate to the need or probable use.
This bill promotes a whole system approach to transportation planning. The benefits include increased mobility for elders, better public health, reduced transportation costs, potential for economic and community development, and improved environmental quality.
As the costs of gas and car ownership increase, user-friendly downtowns and town centers attract business and foster a sense of community. About 44% of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector. Planning and imagination are required to replace an auto-centric way of thinking about transportation with a multi-modal one.