Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do "Complete Streets" Complete Us?

"Smart Growth Agenda" For New York State Issues Talking Points. Too Bad It's Probably Little More Than Just Talk

Out of Albany comes the latest initiative -- albeit only a bill out of committee, unfunded and but a twinkle, if not a wink, in the eyes of sponsors and supporters alike.

There may not be a budget in New York, but the Complete Streets and Smart Growth Agendas for New York State rolls onto Main Street (or was that State Street, and the floors of the Assembly and Senate?) nonetheless. Well, at least legislation to create the Complete Streets program has been introduced.

You can read the release below, which is probably about all you'll see of this program, presuming our State Legislators continue to waddle down that rocky, pothole-riddled road toward the abyss. [That's just east of Cohoes, for those not familiar with the territory.]

Complete Streets, a nationwide movement, is a grand idea, reflecting the true ideals of Smart Growth. One must question, however, given a dysfunctional New York government, and a deepening State deficit, whether we can ever get down that road from here.

Complete Streets. The only things missing are the will and, oh yeah, the money. . .
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From State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn):


Montgomery Legislation Will Impact Infrastructure Development To Create Livable Communities

Albany, NY – Senator Velmanette Montgomery today joined with Senator Martin Dilan, Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, AARP, Empire State Future and other coalition groups to announce Complete Streets and Smart Growth Agendas for New York State.

Complete Streets focuses on ensuring that road design incorporates the needs of all people, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Smart Growth focuses on investing in livable communities for all ages while building a healthy economy. The legislative package has the backing of an unprecedented group of organizations including health care advocates, senior and consumer organizations, disability groups, transportation advocates, environmentalists, businesses, and bike enthusiasts.

“Planning for infrastructure improvements in a way that protects our natural resources makes sense economically, as well as environmentally, stated New York State Senator Susan Oppenheimer, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. That’s why I’m pleased to work with my colleagues Assemblyman Hoyt and Senator Montgomery on legislation that will incorporate smart growth principles in the evaluation of public infrastructure projects.”

"My legislation will create a coordinated approach to environmentally sound, safe and responsible development in New York State," said New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn), Chair of Senate Children’s and Families Committee, noting that the legislation recognizes the State's necessary role in developing smart-growth principles and requiring adherence to the criteria as a condition of approving building projects. "As development increases, shortsighted and poorly planned suburban and urban sprawl continue to threaten the well-being and quality of life of for my constituents and residents statewide. This mission without vision cannot be allowed to continue."

“Creating and investing in sustainable communities with infrastructure that takes into account the accessibility and mobility needs of the aging population is essential to New Yorkers who want to age in their communities,” stated Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director.

"New Yorkers have reconsidered the way in which they move about. They have opted for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Instead of driving, they now walk and ride when they can. It is time for the state to accommodate their choice. It’s time we plan, design and build for a multi-modal state and future,” said Senator Martin MalavĂ© Dilan, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.

“The 39 member organizations of the Empire State Future Coalition are pleased to join our partners from AARP, the Tristate Transportation Campaign, the New York State League of Conservation Voters and the Public Health community to call for a 2010 Livable Communities agenda for New York State,” stated Peter Fleischer of Empire State Future.

“This agenda has many aspects but today we note two important legislative priorities. The Public Infrastructure Policy Act is a much-needed means to turn the State’s limited infrastructure dollars into investments that create future growth, stronger communities while protecting our natural resources."

The NY State Bicycling Coalition enthusiastically supports Complete Streets legislation that will help encourage walking and bicycling along our roads and streets,” stated Ivan Vamos, AICP of the New York State Bicycle Coalition. “Modest adjustments to most transportation construction and rehabilitation projects can provide greatly improved mobility, safety and healthy activity, especially for the young, old and those without automobiles.”

"With now over 200,000 people riding a bike as transportation each day in New York City and a reduction in pedestrian injuries and fatalities, we've seen the transformative effect of a DOT that's dedicated to complete streets", said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, "This legislation will ensure that this trend will continue."


  1. Even assuming (and you know what that does) this initiative passes, gets funding, and hits the streets, so to speak, what will that mean here on Long Island, and, more specifically, in places like the Town of Hempstead, where "complete" is to "street" as "Victorian Style Streetlamp" is to "decorative planter?"

    It all sounds wonderful until one distinguishes between the talk and the action. For the most part, on the streets of Long Island, the effect is little more than facade.

  2. The most dangerous roadway in New York, at least for pedestrians, is in Nassau County.

    It's Hempstead Turnpike, which I'm certain comes as no suprise to anyone who regularly reads this blog.

    Complete Streets? I think New York's elected leaders have an incomplete picture of what is needed to revitalize and re-energize Main Street, and tunnel vision when it comes to so-called smart growth on Long Island.

  3. Sam Hoyt is out lived his useful life as an assesmblyman...actually he did over a decaxe ago...he is an embarassment to Buffalo and a deterent to economic growth in Upstate new York.

  4. It's amazing how different branches of government love to focus on problems they have little or no control over to divert attention from the real problems they face.
    If we really want "smart growth" development to happen, then we must make comprehensive changes to our zoning code, something the State has very little control over. Our Towns and Villages have to get with the program, and bring their zoning codes up to date.
    The State, on the other hand, should focus on fixing that $9 billion deficit!