East Meadow, NY – Standing at Eisenhower Park near Hempstead Turnpike, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, joined by Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, “Safe Kids” Nassau Coordinator Catherine Blotiau, and Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander today announced a plan to improve pedestrian safety on Long Island roadways at a time when 80 fatalities and nearly 1,600 injuries involving pedestrians occurred on Long Island’s main thoroughfares. In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, Gillibrand is pushing for legislation she authored that would allow the federal government to fully fund pedestrian safety measures through federal highway safety funds. Federally-backed projects such as traffic crosswalk signals, pedestrian sidewalks, and crossing islands in the middle of a highway would incentivize states to put these measures in place. Gillibrand also co-sponsored a federal measure to ensure that new roads will be designed and built to safely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Too many pedestrians have lost their lives or suffered serious injuries along dangerous roadways on Long Island,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must ensure that our communities have safer streets that protect our children, seniors, and pedestrians. These common-sense federal measures would provide more investment towards safer roadways and help prevent these tragic accidents from happening.”
“Long Island is a bustling suburb with over 2.6 million cars on our roadways,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Murray. “Ensuring the safety of pedestrians who share the streets with motor vehicles is critically important. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has crafted legislation that will safeguard all pedestrians and help local governments to protect our children, senior citizens and all neighbors who walk along area streets. I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her thoughtful and practical approach to enhancing pedestrian safety.”
“Safe Kids Nassau County is encouraged to see legislation that will support our education efforts and keep our child pedestrians safe,” said Catherine Blotiau, Coordinator of the Nassau County Safe Kids Coalition, North Shore-LIJ Health System.
“Federal legislation aimed at pedestrian improvements will go a long way to addressing this safety epidemic facing Long Island roadways,” said Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island Director. “For too long folks have been wringing their hands saying design solutions do not exist. Kudos to Senator Gillibrand for introducing this bill and we look forward to working with her in conjunction with the LI Complete Streets Coalition for successful passage.
Long Island accounts for about half of the top 21 most dangerous roads, according to the Tri-State Transportation Commission. In 2012 alone, there have been a total of 39 fatalities and nearly 1,000 injuries across Nassau County’s main roadways, with Hempstead Turnpike ranked as one of metro region’s most dangerous roads, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Between 2010 and 2012, there were a dozen deaths involving pedestrians along the turnpike. Across Suffolk County, 41 fatalities and 559 injuries occurred on roads in 2012, with Jericho Turnpike listed as the tri-state area’s most dangerous road for pedestrians.
Currently, the federal government fully funds certain highway safety projects for states that are mainly focused on motorists and vehicles. Gillibrand’s Pedestrian Safety Act of 2014 would allow states to use these federal highway safety funds towards pedestrian safety projects. Legislation would expand the list of fully federally-funded safety measures to include pedestrian safety projects for states and localities, including:
· Pedestrian hybrid beacons, which are enhanced traffic crosswalk signals primarily used on highways and other roads without pedestrian intersections. The signals are only triggered to stop traffic when a pedestrian needs to cross.
· Roadway improvements that provide a separation between pedestrians and motor vehicles, such as pedestrian sidewalks and crossing islands in the middle of a highway. These are particularly important for children, seniors and persons with disabilities who may take a longer time to cross.
The Senator’s bill would also require the Department of Transportation to issue improved car design standards in order to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities and support community outreach efforts on pedestrian safety.
Gillibrand also co-sponsored the Safe Streets Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation that will improve the safety of our nation’s roads and expand access for all users. With many roads designed only for cars and busy traffic, the bill will change the approach to the way federally-funded roads are planned, designed, and built, ensuring new roads follow safer policies and accommodating travelers of all ages and abilities, including drivers, transit passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Complete Street policies make sure that sidewalks, crosswalks, and safe transit access are taken into consideration as roadway plans are developed.
Both Nassau and Suffolk Counties have taken steps to address challenges to pedestrian safety by adopting comprehensive “Complete Streets” policies, and Gillibrand’s Safe Streets Act of 2014 will help and encourage communities across New York to follow Long Island’s lead. In 2012, the Town of Hempstead adopted this policy, mandating that new road projects are viable for all people traveling on them, including motorists, pedestrians, children, senior citizens, bicyclists, commercial vehicles and public transportation.