Infrastructure Bill Takes Small Steps Toward Pedestrian Safety

While road funding still dominates the newly passed infrastructure bill, pedestrian advocates praise the bill's modest investment in active transportation and road safety.

November 15, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Florida Pedestrians

Box Lab / Shutterstock

Streetsblog's Kea Wilson describes the "modest but potentially powerful" policies that support active transportation in the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Despite the high ratio of road to transit funding, the bill also includes support for programs that make walking and biking safer and more accessible, such as $1.44 billion a year for "transportation alternatives" and a requirement for states to allocate 15 percent of Highway Safety Improvement Program funds to protecting vulnerable road users.

Of course, those modest wins for active road users were dwarfed by investments into roadway infrastructure, which promises to widen roads for drivers at the same time as cities break ground on all those new mobility lanes. The trails community, in particularly, was disappointed by a new rule which will subject much of the country’s off-street biking and walking networks to the annual appropriations process, rather than guaranteeing its own dedicated fund.

The bill also includes a package of new mandates meant to reduce pedestrian deaths, such as "still-to-be-determined impaired driving technology on all new cars" and updated headlamp standards.

Wilson details the other provisions in the bill, writing that "[d]espite the disappointments in the latest infrastructure bill, advocates remain cautiously optimistic that it will at least lower America’s roadway death toll a bit — especially if the most important measures in its companion bill make their way through the gauntlet of intraparty negotiations."

Monday, November 8, 2021 in Streetsblog USA

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