Advocates for safer streets are alarmed by a New York State DOT “blueprint” for capital investments that scarcely acknowledges walking or biking as modes of transportation.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign noted in November that the NYS DOT document released with the file name “Two Year Capital Plan” [PDF] made virtually no mention of pedestrians or cyclists.
Biking got no ink in a document described by the New York State DOT as a blueprint for future transportation spending. Photo: @BrooklynSpoke
“Although the document uses key buzzwords — ‘multi-modal,’ ‘users of all modes,’ ‘sustainable,’ ‘improve livability,’ ‘environmental protection’ — complete streets advocates are left hanging when the document lists the ways New Yorkers get around,” wrote Nadine Lemmon, Albany legislative advocate for Tri-State.
The state DOT released the report at a time when investments in walking and cycling are “getting hit left, right and center” in New York State, according to Lemmon. The new federal transportation bill, MAP-21, resulted in a 30 percent cut in federal dedicated funding, Lemmon says, and new NYS DOT policies put bike-ped projects at a disadvantage when competing for state matching funds.
The omission of walking and biking is particularly striking given the state’s new complete streets law, which took effect in February.
In an email to Streetsblog, NYS DOT spokesperson Beau Duffy distinguished between the document and the capital plan, which will guide state transportation spending for two years.
The document submitted by NYS DOT to the NY Works Task force for consideration represented an infrastructure investment blueprint from which an investment level to support the development of the Department’s next transportation capital program would be advanced. NYS DOT’s report was intended to address four broad-based investment categories (Construction and Program Support, System Maintenance and Operations, Local Roads and Bridges, and Modal Infrastructure) and was not intended to address all of the infrastructure assets or modes under its jurisdiction.
Notwithstanding, each one of the four investment categories detailed by NYS DOT in the report provides support and opportunities for bicycle, pedestrian and safety-related improvements. The Department’s capital program of projects will be developed in coordination with the Executive and the Legislature as part of the State budget process.
Advocates say that explanation is just a long-winded way to distract from the lack of specific commitments to walking and biking as the capital plan takes shape. ”In this document, they are asking for guidance on what funding level will be approved for the next capital program,” says Lemmon. “[T]his is about the capital plan — and [Duffy] says that.”