Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 16, 2011

New York Enacts Complete Streets Law

Premised on public safety and greener roads and highways, New York now requires all county and local transportation projects undertaken by the State Department of Transportation or for projects that receive both federal and state funding are subject to State DOT oversight, to consider the convenient access and mobility on the road network by all including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation users by incorporating complete streets design features. Such considerations are required in the planning, design, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of roads, but exempted are projects aimed at resurfacing, maintenance, or pavement recycling.                          

The new law explains that complete street design features include: sidewalks, paved shoulders suitable for bicyclists, lane striping, bicycle lanes, share the road signage, crosswalks, road diets, pedestrian control signalization, pull outs, curb cuts, raised crosswalks and ramps, and traffic calming measures.   

Exceptions are made where it has been set forth in publically available documents that use of the road by bicyclists and pedestrians is prohibited by law, or where the cost would be disproportionate to the need as determined by factors including: land use context, current and projected traffic volumes, demonstrated lack of need, or that the use of the design features would have an adverse impact on public safety.    

The new law does not require the state to spend additional funds to comply. Also, failure to comply with the new law is not admissible as evidence against the state, any municipality or public authority in any claim for money damages. 

Within two years of the effective date, the Department of Transportation is required to publish a report showing how it has complied with the new law,  how it has changed its procedures to institutionalize a complete streets program, and it must identify best practices. 

The effective date is 180 days after the bill was signed (signed August 15, 2011), and projects previously undertaken or approved prior to the effective date are exempted.      

 A copy of the Legislation can be accessed at: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S5411A-2011

For a press release from Governor Cuomo see: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/08152011CompleteStreetsLegislation


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