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Legislation would make roads safer and more accessible to all, i

MinnPost: Legislation would make roads safer and more accessible to all, including bikers and pedestrians

By Joe Kimball | Published Mon, Feb 8 2010 12:58 pm

Legislation that would require design of roads that accommodate all users, including bicyclists and walkers, has been introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate.

Supporters say the plan, called "Complete Streets," would help "the Minnesota Department of Transportation respond to local needs and local users" by removing "the need for multiple designs and variances in an effort to build roads right the first time, rather than fixing them after a tragedy occurs."

Rep. Mike Obermueller, DFL-Eagan, the House author, said that in the past decade more than 500 bicyclists and pedestrians have been killed, and another 20,000 injured on Minnesota roads.

“One of the reasons for these injuries and fatalities is that state standards too often dictate that Minnesota roads move cars as quickly as possible and ignore the abilities of seniors, children, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders,” Obermueller said.

The bills, SF 2461 and HF 2801, have the support of a broad coalition of health, family, environment, senior and transportation advocates.
“Minnesota seniors and children are especially vulnerable to transportation systems that are designed almost exclusively for moving automobiles,” said Bob Geyen, state volunteer leader for AARP, one of 48 organizations supporting the bill.

Blue Cross’ chief prevention officer, Dr. Marc Manley, said: “Current road designs often create barriers and discourage people from walking and biking. We need to make it easier for people to be active and achieve or maintain a healthy weight. This Complete Streets policy is a creative solution that not only can make our transportation dollars stretch farther, but also encourage more people to lead an active lifestyle, thereby improving health and saving health care dollars.”