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Michigan’s draft Complete Streets policy is out, and the Michigan State Transportation Commission (MSTC) is looking for your feedback. Through July 13th, we urge you to join other citizens around the state by signing the change.org petition asking MSTC to adopt a stronger policy.

MSTC, a six-member board that establishes the policy and plans for Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT), recently released the draft policy for implementing Complete Streets on state roads. The Complete Streets policy will direct MDOT planners to design and maintain roadways that fit within the context of the community and keep all users in mind, including bicyclists, public transit riders, motorists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

While the state’s effort is a big step in the right direction, bicycle, disability, transit, and pedestrian advocates around the state think the policy could be clearer, more specific, and include firm timelines for implementing Complete Streets procedures. Advocates analyzed the policy, comparing it to national best practices, and have identified a number of key areas where Michigan’s policy could be improved.

The draft policy is the result of Complete Streets legislation passed in 2010 with overwhelming support from Michigan Legislature and the public. The legislation requires that the state adopt a policy by August 2012.  MSTC is only allowing two weeks for the public to review and comment on the policy and this period is quickly coming to a close on July 13th. That’s why we need you to ACT TODAY and sign the petition urging MSTC to make improvements to the policy before adopting it.

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As you may know, Governor Snyder will be delivering his special address on Michigan infrastructure next week. LMB is pleased to be working with the Transportation for Michigan Coalition (Trans4m) is holding a week of action this week to help change the conversation to that of providing innovative transportation solutions to rebuild our cities and our economy.

Tell Governor Snyder to move Michigan forward!

Week of Action: Help Transform Michigan’s Transportation Future

So far, most of the dialogue around Governor Snyder’s much awaited infrastructure plan has been about roads. While fixing our current transportation system is important, we need to acknowledge that strategic investment in rail, bus transit, and walking and biking through complete streets can help revitalize our cities and towns, reconnect people to jobs and opportunity, and reduce our transportation expenses.

Act now to tell Governor Snyder that you support solutions that will bring Michigan’s infrastructure into the 21st Century. There are easy ways you can tell the Governor that you want more than “business as usual” transportation planning and policy:

Ask Governor Snyder to consider the following solutions:

Invest in roads that let us walk and bike safely
Ensure the Michigan Department of Transportation adopts a statewide complete streets policy that is clear, comprehensive, and provides an effective framework for how state and local officials and citizens work together.

Invest in transportation choices
Allocate transportation funding strategically by investing in rail, public transit, and non-motorized options to build a 21st century multimodal transportation system.

Coordinate regional transit service
Establish a Regional Transit Authority that would coordinate and oversee regional public transit service in southeast Michigan. This would ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness for the region’s transit service.

Give regions options for pay for transit
Pass legislation that enables local communities and regions to choose from options to their fund their local transportation needs, with county or regional sales tax a top priority.

Invest in rail
Capitalize on the recent federal award by ensuring that our rail passenger rail infrastructure continues to expand and connect to cities and towns across the state.

These solutions will position Michigan for place-based economic development and result in vibrant places where people want to live and businesses want to locate.

Key Congressional leaders are attacking Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails and are taking steps to cut off dedicated federal funding for walking and biking. Please act NOW!

We Action_Alertneed every single person who simply wants safe options to walk or bicycle to contact their Senators and Representative today at this link sponsored by Safe Routes to School National Partnership! Just click here, and put in your zip code and the names of your congressional delegates will appear with a message you can send to them. It’s that easy to act to protect dedicated funding for biking and walking.

Read on for more information:

House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-FL) announced yesterday that his transportation bill will eliminate dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, including Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Program, and discourage states from choosing to spend their dollars on these activities that are “not in the federal interest.” Chairman Mica’s statement that these programs remain “eligible” for funding is worthless; without dedicated funding for these three programs, they are effectively eliminated.

Things on the Senate side are not much better. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.’ This is in direct conflict with Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) commitment to maintain dedicated funding for biking and walking. However, the Senate is working towards a bi-partisan solution, and Senator Inhofe’s comments mean funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.

Help protect Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails. Contact your Members of Congress and tell them to reach out to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, and Congressman Mica to urge them to continue dedicated funding for these important bicycling and walking programs.

Do you need some good facts to further bolster your argument?

Not in the federal interest? Biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips in the US, even as funding for biking and walking projects only accounts for 1.5% of the federal transportation budget. That is more than 4 billion bicycle trips and 40 billion walking trips a year, including trips to work, school, shopping and for recreation and tourism.

Frivolous? Two-thirds of all pedestrian deaths are on federally funded highways. One-third of children’s traffic deaths happen when children are walking or bicycling and are struck by cars. Bicycling and walking programs build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways-improving accessibility and saving lives.

The Facts

  • Biking and walking are important forms of transportation, and funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is a very efficient use of federal transportation dollars. Portland, OR built 300 miles of bike lanes and trails for the cost of one mile of highway.
  • These projects create jobs and build local economies. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46% more jobs than building road-only projects per million dollars spent. Cities that invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects turn downtowns into destinations, and capitalize on increased business activity.
  • Eliminating the 1.5% of transportation funding spent on bike/ped would have no meaningful impact on the federal budget, but would decrease transportation options for American families in a time of rising gas prices and an uncertain economy.

Why Act Now? Both the House and Senate long-term transportation bills are being written as we speak. We still have a chance of influencing the outcomes. Let’s make sure that funding for biking and walking programs don’t disappear for many years.

We need every Senator to tell Senators Boxer and Inhofe that bicycling and walking are vital parts of our transportation system, and that there must be dedicated funding for sidewalks, bike lanes and trails to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are safe. And we need every Representative in the House to tell Chairman Mica the same.

Please contact your Senators and Representatives TODAY to tell them that bicycling and walking are a critical part of a safe and equitable transportation system. Ask them to tell Representative Mica and Senators Boxer and Inhofe that a federal transportation bill must continue dedicated funding for bicycling and walking.

As a follow-up to the Action Alert we posted in late April regarding the Michigan budget process, we wanted to update our supporters on the finalized budget in regards to complete streets and public transit funding.

The House version of the budget ultimately reduced bus operating and bus capital by $20 million, however the final version that came out of conference committee restored funding for public transportation to current year levels. We are extremely pleased to see that the House and Senate came together to recognize the vital importance of funding public transportation in Michigan.

The complete streets boilerplate language did not fare so well, however. Unfortunately, while the Senate version of the budget included the complete streets boilerplate language, which gave Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding preference to communities with complete streets policies, the final version lacked such language.

The TE program is a competitive grant program that funds projects such as nonmotorized paths, streetscapes, and historic preservation of transportation facilities, that enhance Michigan’s intermodal transportation system and improve the quality of life for Michigan citizens.

The TE incentive language, which was successfully included in last year’s budget, helped encourage over 25 communities in Michigan to adopt complete streets resolutions and ordinances in the past year alone. We are extremely disappointed that this incentive language, which did not cost anything, was removed from the bill.

We are pleased to report, however, that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), who administers TE funding, has verbally indicated that they will continue to give TE priority to communities with complete streets ordinances and resolutions despite this language being stripped out of the budget bill.

Having received numerous inquires regarding the subject of TE priority going to communities with complete streets policies; we recently requested further clarification from MDOT about how they implement this preference. The Department has explained to us that basically all things being equal in the applications between two communities applying for TE dollars, a community that has shown a true commitment to complete streets would have the more competitive TE project.

This does beg the question of how often communities actually submit truly identical applications. MDOT went on to explain that a community with a competitive project, a complete streets resolution, policy, or ordinance, and a robust public input process that engages all users of the system will have a better chance to secure TE funding than a community that does not develop projects on a good complete streets foundation. “There is no guarantee of funds, but complete streets is good for the community and it improves your chances for a successful application,” said Amber Thelen, MDOT’s TE Program Manager.

MDOT’s Project Competitiveness Details document, available on the TE Program website, specifically references complete streets in two places under the heading “What other factors make a project competitive for TE funding?”:

  • project identified as a result of a community’s Complete Streets stakeholder involvement Process
  • projects supporting a community’s Complete Streets policy, or is part of a statewide initiative such as Cool Cities, Cities of Promise, the Safe Routes to School Program, Heritage Route or Scenic Byways Program

They stressed that regardless if a community has passed a resolution or ordinance, their primary concern is whether or not the community can demonstrate a true commitment to the principles of complete streets in how they approach transportation projects. In addition, MDOT encouraged communities with questions or who have a potential project idea, to contact a TE Grant Coordinator who are available to assist communities by providing more information on the program, guidance on competitive projects, and how to best develop a competitive application. Contact information is available www.michigan.gov/tea, under the “Contact Us” heading.

We will continue to share further details on this topic as they become available.

We would again like to thank all of our supporters who contacted their legislator to ask them to protect transit funding and the complete streets boilerplate language.

UPDATE (5/5/11): Yesterday the full House passed the transportation budget with most other department budgets as one omnibus bill.  The transportation budget contained the same cuts approved by the House Appropriations Committee – $10 million reduction to Bus Operating and $10 million reduction to Bus Capital.  The bill also removed important language that gives grant funding preference to communities with complete streets policies.

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our action alert to oppose these cuts. The next stop for this bill is conference committee, made up of legislators from both the House and Senate.  We do not yet know when the committee will meet or who the conferees will be.  As soon as we know we will post this information to our website. 

Contact your Representative Today!

As we reported last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Transportation voted against the Governor’s funding recommendation for fiscal year 2012 by reducing public transportation funding  by up to 10 percent. Additionally, important complete streets language was stripped from the House version of this transportation funding bill. This important incentive has helped to encourage at least 24 communities in Michigan to adopt complete streets policies this past year, for a total of 40 across the state – the most in the nation.

We are asking complete streets and transit supporters to take action today and contact your Representative to ask them to restore funding for public transportation and to continue to prioritize transportation funding to communities with complete streets policies.  After clicking the take action link above, a predrafted message to your representative will pull up once you put in your zip code.  We encourage you to personalize the message and to explain why public transportation and complete streets are important to you.

Thank you in advance for taking action!

SENATE BUDGET UPDATE:

The full Senate Appropriations Committee reported out yesterday morning their version of the transportation budget which cuts $15 million from the passenger transportation fund (CTF). Senator Anderson offered an amendment, which was supported by Senator Pappageorge and approved, that shifts the full $15 million cut to the Bus Capital line item (the original version had the $15 million cut split between Bus Operating [$5 million] and Bus Capital [$10 million]. This is the less bad option. It means that there will not be money to purchase new buses for FY 12, but restores the money for bus operating.

The Complete Streets boilerplate language was retained in the Senate version. Passenger rail was fully funded.

At this point, we don’t know when the full House Appropriations Committee will meet to take up their version of the bill, so please make sure to contact your Representative asap.

Laashtoet Your Voice Be Heard – Take Action Now!

Last week, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) released a letter and supplemental document, which asked the US Department of Transportation to weaken their guidance on accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians. The supplemental document, submitted as part of a formal review of regulations, asks that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) withdraw their guidance on the meaning of “due consideration” of bicyclists and pedestrians to make it easier for states to ignore the needs of non-motorized travelers. AASHTO prefers the weaker “consider where appropriate” to allow states to avoid having to justify failure to accommodate bicycling and walking.

This request is misguided. At a time when cities are building entire bicycling networks for the cost of one mile of urban four-lane freeway, bike projects are putting people to work, and benefiting business, this is not the time to move backwards. With 23 states embracing Complete Streets (and 39 Micigan policies), AASHTO should be a leading voice in shaping holistic and comprehensive transportation systems, not resisting them. In fact, AASHTO’s own 12 year-old Bicycle Guide, due to be up dated this year, says that bicyclists and pedestrians can be expected on any roadway they are legally allowed to operate and therefore should be accommodated.

Please take a minute to thank the Michigan Department of Transportation for their continued leadership in helping to make Michigan roads safe for all users, including bicyclists, and encourage MDOT Director Kirk Steudle to contact AASHTO President Susan Martinovich, to let her know that Michigan bicyclists disagree with the recommendation.  You are encouraged to personalize the pre drafted message.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.

As we reported last week, the Michigan Senate Transportation Committee is taking testimony on Complete Streets legislation (HB 6151 and 6152) this Wednesday, July 21.  The hearing will be at 11 am (or immediately following session) in room 100 of the Farnum Building in Lansing. If you are planning to attend or testify, please contact john@LMB.org. We are asking all Complete Streets supporters to contact Senate Transportation Committee members in support of these bills before Wednesday’s hearing.

A sample letter is provided below.  Please personalize the message and email it to all five Senators on the Transportation Committee.  If you are from the district’s of any of the Transportation Committee members, please make special note of that in your communications.

Senate Transportation Committee Members:


Jud Gilbert
(Chair):
senjgilbert@senate.michigan.gov
(517) 373-7708

Roger Kahn
(Vice Chair):
senrkahn@senate.michigan.gov
(517) 373-1760

Gerald Van Woerkom
:
sengvanwoerkom@senate.michigan.gov
(517) 373-1635

Raymond Basham
(Minority – Vice Chair):
senrbasham@senate.michigan.gov
(517) 373-7800

John Gleason:

senjgleason@senate.michigan.gov
(517) 373-0142

Sample Letter:

Please personalize

Subject: Support HB 6151 & 6152 – Complete Michigan Streets

Dear Senate Transportation Committee,

I am asking that you support Michigan Complete Streets legislation. House Bills 6151 and 6152 were introduced to encourage communities and road agencies to consider nonmotorized and public transit accommodations to our transportation corridors in state, regional and local planning and implementation processes as a way to create more walkable, bikeable places where children and families can be physically active. The House Transportation Committee unanimously passed the bills, and on the floor of the House of Representatives the bills received overwhelming support. HB 6151 passed with a vote of 85 to 21 and HB 6152 passed 84 to 22.

Complete streets policies ensure that infrastructure is designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities can move safely along and across a complete street.  There is no prescription for what a Complete Street looks like.  A Complete Street in a rural area will look different from a Complete Street in a highly urban area, but both are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone using the road.

Complete Streets boost the economy by increasing residential property values because homeowners are willing to pay more to live in walkable communities and businesses located along Complete Streets often see an increase in sales.  Complete Streets improve safety and reduce crashes by providing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as safe crossings, sidewalks, or on-road bicycle lanes. Complete Streets promote public health by making it safe and convenient for children and families to incorporate physical
activity into their daily lives as a way to combat the obesity epidemic. Clearly, supporting Complete Streets is investing in a stronger and healthier Michigan.

I urge you to vote in favor of the Michigan Compete Streets Bills.  Together we can create a more vibrant Michigan.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your Organization
123 Your St.
Yousville, MI 12345
Phone: (123) 456-7890

The House Transportation Committee will hold its second hearing on the Complete Streets package, House Bill 6151 and House Bill 6152 this Thursday, June 10th at 10:30 a.m. in the House Office Building Committee Room on the 5th Floor (124 North Capitol P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514). We had a very full room of supporters for the first hearing , and we would like to fill the room this time too. There will be cards that you can fill out to support the legislation; there probably won’t be time for all to speak.

If you can’t make the hearing, you can still support the legislation at www.michigancompletestreets.org. There is a letter that you can e-mail to members of the House Transportation committee. Of course it is always best to use your own thoughts of support, but the e-mail is a good starting point. It would also be beneficial for you to write your own legislator with your support.

Thanks as always for adding your voice to this important issue!

Download a Word version of this Action Alert and Sample letter by clicking the graphic above.

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition needs your help to support Complete Streets legislation. The legislation requires communities and road agencies to consider nonmotorized and public transit accommodations to our transportation corridors in state, regional and local planning and implementation processes as a way to create more walkable, bikeable places where children and families can be physically active.

We are asking organizations and their individual members and/or associates to take action.  Show support for this effort by sending your legislators a letter urging them to adopt Michigan House Bills 6151 and 6152.  A template letter of support can be found below.

Organization leaders are also asked to forward these materials to their members and/or associates encouraging them to take action.

TAKE ACTION TODAY:

Step 1
Sign our predrafted email to House Transportation Committee Members expressing your support for HB 6151 and 6152. Please put your first and last name in the “Name” field. You are also encouraged to personalize the message using the “Personal Statement” field. The email form can be found at http://citizenspeak.org/node/2032

Step 2
Using the sample provided on the following page, we also ask that you write a personalized letter to your individual Representative and Senator.

By putting in your 10-digit zip code at www.votesmart.org, you can determine who your legislators are and find their email addresses. Letters can be sent electronically or mailed to representatives and senators at the following addresses:

State Representatives
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909 – 7514

State Senators
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909 – 7536

Step 3
Please mark your calendars for May 27th at 10:30am. The House Transportation Committee will be taking testimony on the these bills.  We would like to fill the room, so please consider attending these hearings.  You may submit verbal or written testimony and/or simply fill out a comment card expressing your support for the legislation.

If you are planning to testify, we’d recommend being strategic and picking one or two angles you’d like to take (e.g. childhood obesity, overall health impacts, aging population, cost savings, environmental benefit, etc), as we are expecting a high level of interest and testimony needs to be short and sweet. If you are interested in submitting testimony, we also ask if that you please contact John Lindenmayer asap so we can attempt to coordinate everyone’s testimony.

Please download our Complete Streets fact sheet to learn more. The National Complete Streets Coalition site also has great fact sheets by issue area if you need additional resources to begin preparing your testimony.

SAMPLE LETTER (please personalize)

(Download Word Version of this Sample Letter)

<Date>, 2010

The Honorable <Name>

Post Office Box

Lansing, MI  48909

<Dear Representative/Senator>:

<I am/Organization is> asking that you support Michigan Complete Streets legislation. House Bills 6151 and 6152 were introduced to encourage communities and road agencies to consider nonmotorized and public transit accommodations to our transportation corridors in state, regional and local planning and implementation processes as a way to create more walkable, bikeable places where children and families can be physically active.

Complete streets policies ensure that infrastructure is designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities can move safely along and across a complete street.  There is no prescription for what a Complete Street looks like.  A Complete Street in a rural area will look different from a Complete Street in a highly urban area, but both are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone using the road.

Complete Streets boost the economy by increasing residential property values because homeowners are willing to pay more to live in walkable communities and businesses located along Complete Streets often see an increase in sales.  Complete Streets improve safety and reduce crashes by providing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as safe crossings, sidewalks, or on-road bicycle lanes. Complete Streets promote public health by making it safe and convenient for children and families to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives as a way to combat the obesity epidemic.

Clearly, supporting Complete Streets is investing in a stronger and healthier Michigan.  <I/We> urge you to vote in favor of the Michigan Compete Streets Bills.  Together we can create a more vibrant Michigan.

Sincerely,

<Name>

<Title>

The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition is excited to announce that a package of Complete Streets bills (HB 6151 & HB 6152) were introduced last night in the Michigan House.   Both bills were referred to the Transportation Committee.

HB 6151, states that “the Department [MDOT], local road agencies, and municipalities that receive appropriations under this act [Act 51] shall adopt complete streets policies” within two years.

The proposed legislation would require the “adequate accommodation, in all phases of project planning, development, construction, maintenance, and operation of all users of the transportation system, including, but not limited to, pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, children, older individuals, motorists and individuals with disabilities.”

The bill also creates a Complete Streets Advisory Council at the state level to “assist local road agencies and municipalities with implementation of Complete Streets Policies.”

The Coalition worked closely with bill sponsors Representative Jon Switalski and House Transportation Chair Pam Byrnes in crafting the bill language.  The Coalition also helped to develop specific exceptions in line with the National Complete Streets Coalition’s recommendations that take into consideration exorbitant cost (20% of the total project cost) as well as “urban, suburban or rural context in which a project is located.”

Such exemptions would have to be approved by a primary transportation planning authority such as MDOT, a metropolitan planning organization, or the regional, county or city agency responsible for planning and approving the project.

The companion bill, HB 6152, would update Michigan’s Planning Enabling Act by adding non-motorized transportation, Complete Streets and traffic calming as required elements of a municipal master plan.

We encourage individuals and organizations to contact their State Representatives (see sample letter below) in support of both bills.



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