WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators. October 8, 2013:
Acknowledging that bicycling, walking and the use of public transportation are becoming become common alternatives to the use of motorized vehicles here in the county, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously passed an Act today making it a County policy to consider “multi-use” features when constructing or renovating County roadways.
Referred to generally as a “Complete Streets” policy, the new Act, when signed into law by the County Executive, will codify the practices currently followed by the County Department of Public Works and Transportation, which are making room for and encouraging greater use of Westchester roadways and thoroughfares by bicyclists and pedestrians with the idea of reducing congestion and pollution caused by motor vehicles.
“The Complete Streets legislation brings together smart, health-conscious and environmentally-friendly solutions to lessen the traffic on our roadways,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL Government Operations Committee and lead sponsor of the bill. “Readying our infrastructure—for today and tomorrow—should mean incorporating the best visionary ideas around to meet the changing needs of our population.”
Borgia added that New York State’s Complete Streets law went into effect in February 2012, and this new legislation expands the policy to County roadways in order to “enhance the safety of all segments of our population, including persons with disabilities, senior citizens, children and emergency service providers.”
Typically, Complete Streets policies lead to changes in transportation planning, design and construction processes. Factors leading to the policy include a high proportion of workers commuting on foot or by bike, carpool or public transit; pedestrian injuries and fatalities on roadways; and a community interest in quality of life improvements.
“Our residents are striving to make their communities more walkable and bike friendly,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-North Salem), a co-sponsor of the Act. “This law will assist in achieving those goals.” Harckham spearheaded the Complete Streets initiative for Westchester with former county legislator Martin Rogowsky in 2009.
Although some circumstances do not warrant Complete Streets designs, a number of studies have provided ample evidence that they can reduce infrastructure costs by 35-40% and reduce injury and crash risk for pedestrians by 28% and for bicyclists by 50%.
“This new policy will modify the traditional automobile-centered approach to community planning while creating jobs that will give a boost to Main Street as well,” said MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), another co-sponsor of the Act.