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New York

Complete Streets Concept a Reality

Transportation engineers must consider pedestrians and cyclists when designing roads

NY State Oct news

Bob O'Connell, 70, rides his bicycle near his home in Clifton Park. O'Connell was part of a major statewide lobbying effort to secure passage of the Complete Streets legislation. — Photo by Corey Hendrickson

En español | As a retired social worker for the U.S. Administration on Aging, Bob O'Connell was well aware of the challenges older adults face when it comes to walking across busy intersections. And as an avid cyclist in his hometown of Clifton Park, he knew that certain roads were simply too busy to ride.

"Clifton Park has done a good job, but you've got to be aware of your surroundings," he said.

See also: Making streets useful to all citizens.

So O'Connell, 70, was happy to join 600 AARP New York volunteers across the state earlier this year in urging legislators to pass "Complete Streets" legislation. Complete Streets requires state, county and local transportation engineers to take pedestrians and cyclists into account when they design a road.

The bill sponsored by state Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., R-Merrick, and Assemblyman David F. Gantt, D-Rochester, passed unanimously and will take effect early next year.

Complete Streets adjustments may include paved shoulders for bicycles, longer crossing signals and the addition of crosswalks. If adjustments cannot be made — because they may be too costly or present a safety hazard, for instance — the designers must explain their reasons in a report.

To make their case, AARP volunteers dressed in red passed out fliers at the Capitol and spoke at press conferences to help make the public aware of the issue.

O'Connell, a member of AARP New York's executive council, also talked to town and school officials about Complete Streets. "It's an issue that I feel needs continued attention," he said. "I've got six grandchildren here, and at some point they're going to want to bike and go from one development to another development. We need more consideration for walkers and bicyclists crossing safely."

In a nationwide AARP survey of 1,000 transportation planners and engineers, nearly two-thirds said they did not consider older users when designing a road.

Next: New York ranks fourth in number of pedestrian deaths. >>

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