May 15, 2014

Key Senate Committee Passes Gillibrand Measure to Improve Pedestrian Safety on New York Roadways, Reduce Fatalities and Injuries

Gillibrand Legislation Would Allow Localities to Use Federal Highway Safety Funds for Pedestrian Safety Projects, Improve Safety

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, announced today that a key Senate panel passed Gillibrand’s measure 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’s legislation was passed as a part of the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes federal highway programs.  This bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

Earlier this month, Senator Gillibrand announced her plan to improve pedestrian safety legislation in East Meadow and Saugerties at a time when more than 100 fatalities and thousands of injuries involving pedestrians occurred on Long Island and Hudson Valley’s main thoroughfares. 

“Too many pedestrians have lost their lives or suffered serious injuries along dangerous roadways across New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must ensure that our communities have safer streets that protect our children, seniors, and pedestrians. This common-sense federal measure would provide more investment towards safer roadways and help prevent these tragic accidents from happening.”

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.

Gillibrand’s measure to expand the list of fully federally-funded safety measures to include pedestrian safety projects for states and localities passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Projects include:

  • 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.