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Safe Routes to School–and elsewhere: Complete Streets Act of 2011

Why a Complete Streets Act?

Pictured below:  Diego Tapia, commuting by bike from his workplace, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, to his home in Watsonville.

“I love biking to work, but this is a long commute, and it would sure be more comfortable with a bike lane.  Better still will be the day when Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties are connected by a bike-pedestrian trail network–love that vision of a Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail!”

On May 24, 2011, US Senator Tom Harkin (IA) introduced Complete Streets Act of 2011 (number not yet assigned).  The bill is endorsed by Safe Routes to School, and also endorsed by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, America Bikes,  Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, League of American Bicyclists, National Center for Walking and Biking, National Complete Streets Coalition, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Transportation Choices Coalition, Transportation for America, and others.

Read on for related post, published April 14, 2011:

Oberstar Urges Bicycle Leaders to Seek Support for Safe Routes to School

A safe route parallel to Del Monte Avenue, Monterey

Senate Bill 800, a bill to sustain and strengthen the federal Safe Routes to School program, needs the support of the cycling community and others who care about improving the health of America’s children.

On April 12 and 13, attendees of the annual Bicycle Leadership Conference, held in Monterey, were urged by former U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar of Minnesota to contact their Senators and ask that they co-sponsor Senate Bill 800.  The bill was introduced this week by twelve senators, led by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).   Oberstar is the legislative father of Safe Routes to School.

S. 800 is being introduced at a time when Congress is seeking ways to make transportation spending cuts.  Oberstar, who served in Congress from 1975-2011, was Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2007-2011, and he had plenty to say to BLC attendees about bicycles and transportation spending.

Oberstar and his wife, Jean, were at the Bicycle Leadership Conference for two days of the three-day event at the Monterey Plaza Hotel.   The former Congressman received a Lifetime Achievement award on April 12 for his accomplishments on behalf of cycling.

Oberstar on bicycles and transportation spending

On April 13, during the BLC’s opening session–“The Federal Investment in Cycling:  How Has It Paid Off?”–Oberstar told attendees it is firmly established in federal surface transportation law that bicycling is integral to the overall mobility system.

He stated, as he had at the kick-off reception, that an urban lane mile, on average, costs–including acquisition of land–

  • about 80-128 thousand dollars  for bicycles
  • about 40-120 million dollars for cars.

He added that reducing congestion is an economic advantage to communities.

He asked attendees to consider the hard facts:  If you aren’t willing to increase the gas tax, you’ll have to go with a lower level of transportation funding.  The gas tax hasn’t increased since 1993, when it was raised 4.3 cents during the Clinton administration.  Oberstar stated that political leaders of the past looked at the greater good of America, and he gave the example of the Reagan adminstration’s “need a nickel for America” gas tax boost to transportation funds.  Resistance to a gas tax hike is strong, although, he pointed out, people pay daily highway tolls–which are taxes–without hesitation.

He urged people to tell Congress that transportation cuts should be taken equally from all sectors of transportation, that this is the fair and equitable approach–not to cut bicycle projects and only build new highways.

In 1970, he said, 35% of kids walked or biked to school. Now only 5% do.

Senate Bill 800 and Safe Routes to School is being addressed by Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Parks and Trails New York, Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, and other organizations.

The conference, attended by key industry executives and cycling advocates, continues through April 14.  Click here for tips for attendees.

The above video of the BLC kick-off reception includes interviews with Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong, John Nedeau, Michael Deleon, and Jeff Miller.

Thank you to Sami Tauber, CEO of for providing this video.

A safe route alongside Monterey’s Window on the Bay Park,  parallel to Del Monte Avenue
“I know your brother got to spin his tires in the water, and it is fun!  But we’ve got to move along, so you boys will get to school on time.  We can stop and play awhile on the way home!”

People for Bikes

Infrastructure makes a big difference!  Consider signing the People for Bikes pledge, a campaign “Uniting a million voices to improve the future of biking.”  Watch a 1 minute, 25 second video poem, “If I Ride,” from People for Bikes; click here.

Local note

What about our local Congressman?  Regarding Congressman Sam Farr (17th Congressional district), Oberstar commented:  “Sam is one of the most creative and original thinkers in the House.”

This post was published on 25 May 2011. One or more changes last made to this post on 24 April 2019.

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