Sacramento has seen significant improvements for people who walk and bike thanks to an established Complete Streets policy in the city’s General Plan.  Yet in the past six weeks, two pedestrians have been struck and killed while walking in marked crosswalks in the Fruitridge neighborhood of Sacramento.

That’s why WALKSacramento and friends gathered with Congresswoman Doris Matsui on Wednesday, February 22 at the Fruitridge Community Center for the release of the new report “It’s a Safe Decision: Complete Streets In California.

“Since 2009, more than 880 pedestrians and bicyclists have been injured, 30 fatally, here in Sacramento,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “These needless and preventable incidents highlight the need for Complete Streets policies, which are critical to making our communities more livable, sustainable, and most importantly, safe.”

The report, authored by the National Complete Streets Coalition and the Local Government Commission, showcases successful Complete Streets policies throughout the Golden State and calls on Congress to ensure the next transportation bill requires roads to be designed and operated to enable safe access for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities. The Sacramento section notes the success of 3 – 2 lane conversions and one way to two way streets transforming fast, dangerous local roads into safer and complete streets.

Speakers pointed to the recent tragedies as evidence that local policy is not enough.

“Until we stop designing roads with only speeding cars in mind, crosswalks alone won’t prevent these tragedies from repeating themselves,” said Terry Preston of WALK Sacramento.  “We resolve to support Congresswoman Matsui’s Safe and Complete Streets Act in Washington to protect the lives of people in Sacramento, and around the nation.”

Other speakers included Sacramento City Councilmember Kevin McCarty and Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District Executive Director Larry Greene, who urged both houses of Congress to prioritize health and safety by passing a national Complete Streets policy.  And AARP spokesperson Julia Hassel reminded the crowd that for older Americans, walking is critical for both physical and mental health.

“Too many of our seniors are stuck choosing between isolation at home, or danger as a pedestrian,” Hassel said. “We owe it to our seniors to provide safe places for walking so they can remain connected to family and friends, as well as doctors, grocery stores, and other services.”

Congresswoman Matsui is the co-sponsor of the Safe and Complete Streets Act, which would require states to ensure every transportation project takes into account the needs of all users of the roadway.  A version of the measure is under consideration as Congress debates the transportation authorization.

Councilmember McCarty is convening a forum on Thursday, March 8, to review options to improve Fruitridge east of Stockton.

WALKSacramento is working with partners on a grant proposal to review the length of the Fruitridge corridor.

Link to the full Complete Streets report:
http://www.completestreets.org/webdocs/resources/cs-in-california.pdf

Media:

Capital Public Radio NPR –
http://www.capradio.org/articles/2012/02/22/matsui-says-complete-streets-could-turn-areas-like-fruitridge-into-this

Fox 40 –
http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-matsui-to-tie-roadway-safety-to-federal-maintenance-dollars-local-support-for-safer-streets-20120221,0,3923661.story

By Terry Preston, Complete Streets Coordinator for Walk Sacramento