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Texas Lawmaker Wants Pedestrian Safety Bill
Safer streets across the Lone Star State: after a year of hundreds of cycling and pedestrian deaths across Texas, some lawmakers are looking to introduce a bill aiming to make Texas roads safer, not just for drivers.
"That person on the bike is somebody's mom, somebody's dad," said Al Bastidas, of Please Be Kind to Cyclists.
After a deadly year on Austin roads, Bastidas and other cyclists statewide are pushing lawmakers for "complete streets."
"It does reduce the number of fatalities and injuries," said Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), a cyclist himself, who is working toward introducing a "complete streets" bill requiring TxDOT to take cyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities into account when building or redoing roads getting state of federal funding.
"It actually reduces the cost over time if you take into account all modes of transportation, said Sen. Ellis.
As much as 35 to 40 percent off infrastructure costs, according to some advocates. Protected bike lanes and curb extensions are examples of what could be included on a complete street, but there are no hard restrictions or criteria, only what Sen. Ellis calls a "good faith requirement" that TxDOT consider all modes of transportation.
But if there's no set requirement, how do lawmakers make sure everyone follows the policy?
"I think you'll find that that good faith language will give people a hell of a headache if they don't implement it," said Sen. Ellis.
When asked if that meant those projects would not receive funding, he replied, "It would make it very difficult to get the funding. At least it raises the possibility of someone raising a court challenge or contesting getting the funding."
When asked why the state doesn't focus on building more roads or safety improvements to the roads themselves, Sen. Ellis replied, "It's a big state. We've got 26 million people in Texas. We can never afford to build a road everywhere somebody wants one."
There would be exceptions if there arent enough people around, or the project is too costly with the improvements.
A State Representative from the Dallas area is planning to introduce a similar bill in the House.
The City of Austin has several similar policies in place throughout the city.
By Adam Bennett