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Once a critic, now a supporter, Ohio Rep. helps make complete streets bill bipartisan

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) probably learned the hard way earlier this year that safe, accessible streets for bikers, walkers and all users don’t tend to have any party affiliation, and he is to be commended for proving his support for complete streets by signing onto the House complete streets bill last week, becoming its first Republican cosponsor.

On behalf of our thousands of supporters from communities across the country who think that it’s important that our transportation network be safe and usable by everyone, we’d like to thank Rep. LaTourette for signing on to the Complete Streets Act of 2009, making the bill bipartisan in the House. He joins sixty other co-sponsors in supporting good transportation planning practices that ensure that the safety of everyone using the road will be taken into account – whether they are driving, bicycling, walking, or catching the train or bus.

For some strange reason at the federal level, complete streets have been unfortunately maligned as a partisan issue, with Republicans in Congress hesitant to formally support the principles in a bill, resulting in the strange dynamic of Congress being far behind the curve of their state and local counterparts where politicians and leaders of all stripes have supported complete streets from the state level on down to the big city, metro area, county and small town — no matter their party affiliation.

“With 23 states and more than 140 local governments adopting Complete Streets policies, it has become clear that this is not a partisan issue – and that this is a change in transportation priorities that Americans want to see nationwide,” said Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Charlotte Complete Streets-East Boulevard Originally uploaded by Complete Streets to Flickr.
Before its road diet, Charlotte’s East Boulevard was a four-lane, undivided road, that carried over 20,000 per day! Now, East Blvd–with its bike lanes, center turn lane, and curb ramps — is a complete street. Photo: Charmeck.org

We’d certainly like to hope that Rep. LaTourette’s signature on the bill — a product of responding to the voice of his local constituents — will open the floodgates for more House Republicans to support a bill and an idea that has broad support across the country in the local areas they represent. We’re sure there are dozens of House Republicans who are supportive of this idea but have been hesitant to be the only member of their party on the bill at such a polarized time in D.C.

When Rep. LaTourette made his comments back in April of this year about biking and walking to Secretary LaHood in a hearing, he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments from residents of his district who agreed with the Secretary that it was high time to treat biking and walking as legitimate and equal forms of transportation.

So local advocates from Walk and Roll Cleveland worked with Mr. LaTourette to bring him on board, sharing information with him about the economic benefits of building infrastructure to serve bicyclists and pedestrians and local bicycle shop owners also visited him. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Ohio Department of Transportation has been showing interest in developing a statewide policy, according to the folks at the National Complete Streets Coalition, or that Cleveland’s metropolitan planning organization adopted a policy 7 years ago.

Members of the National Complete Streets Coalition were pleased with the development.

“In signing on to the Complete Streets bill, Rep. LaTourette has started what could become a significant step toward safer more user-friendly streets for everyone, whether they walk, drive or ride,” said AARP Senior VP for Government Relations and Advocacy David Sloane. “Many Ohioans have seen the benefits of Complete Streets policies in their hometowns; AARP looks forward to the rest of the nation sharing that opportunity.”

Are you represented by someone who hasn’t yet signed onto the Complete Streets Act of 2009? Follow the lead of these Ohio advocates and start calling your representative and organizing meetings to help them see that this idea has broad support back home where their votes are.

Being able to use a street safely — no matter your age, ability or mode of transport — isn’t a partisan idea. Help get that message across in Washington.

Learn more from the National Complete Streets Coalition.

No Comments

  1. Davin

    14 years ago

    This is great news. ‘Complete streets’ make communities more livable, accessible, and safer for everyone. Giving pedestrians and cyclists safer access to existing roads will reduce accidents and make walking or cycling a more attractive option to people who would otherwise choose to drive. Safety shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Support complete streets in your community. Visit http://www.transportationequity.org and find a TEN affiliate in your area.

  2. Pingback: Transportation For America » Complete Streets bill introduced in House, policies gaining in popularity across the country