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AARP, Advocates Praise Five Majority Senators for Urging $100M in Dedicated Pedestrian/Bicycle Aid

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Martins, Golden, Bonacic, Murphy, Funke Ask Senate Leader Flanagan to Support Funding in New State Budget

ALBANY, N.Y. – AARP and other advocates today praised five Majority Senators for urging Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to support $20 million per year over the next five years in the new state budget dedicated to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements.

Senators Jack Martins (R-Nassau) and Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) have joined Senators Rich Funke (R- Monroe), Terrence Murphy (R-Westchester) and John Bonacic (R-Orange) in calling on their leader, Senator Flanagan (R-Suffolk), to support the earmarked funding during ongoing negotiations over this year’s state budget, which is due April 1.

The State Assembly included the $20 million dedicated fund in its proposal for the 2016-17 state budget. Senator Flanagan is leading budget negotiations on behalf of his house with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“By making this additional $20 million annual investment in bicycling and walking infrastructure, we will improve safety, help stimulate local economies, address challenges posed by climate change, and give New Yorkers access to healthy, low-cost transportation options to improve quality of life for the residents of our state,” Senator Jack Martins wrote in a letter to Senator Flanagan – his fellow Long Islander.

“The two most recent federal transportation laws (MAP-2 I and the FAST Act) have dedicated money to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, but over the years, these funds have been reduced by more than 30%,” Senator Martin Golden wrote in a separate letter to Senator Flanagan. “These declining resources inhibit the ability to implement the NYS Complete Streets law.”

“I’m pleased to have supported a proposed increase in funding for pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure,” said Senator John Bonacic. “This proposed funding increase will improve the safety of New York’s pedestrians, and also help promote a healthy, low-cost transportation option that will improve the quality of life for our residents.”

“New Yorkers recognize that the state must invest in infrastructure improvements that include real options for safe and convenient walking and bicycling,” said Senator Terrence Murphy. “Improving our infrastructure will provide a cost effective, healthy alternative to driving and help reduce our carbon footprint.”

“At some point in our day-to-day lives, almost every one of us is a pedestrian, whether it’s walking to our cars, to the bus, to the store, to work, or to school,” said Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport). “Several communities in my District have already made significant efforts to promote walkability, but more remains to be done. I’m proud to partner with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of the Legislature to ensure those who do walk or bike regularly are part of the conversation when it comes to these vital infrastructure investments.”

“AARP applauds Senators Martin, Golden, Bonacic, Murphy and Funke for addressing pedestrian safety by supporting this proposed $20 million addition to the state budget – which would represent first-ever funding dedicated specifically to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP for New York State. “It’s badly needed; New Yorkers 65 and older are over three times more likely to be victims of pedestrian fatalities than younger New Yorkers, pedestrians of all ages accounted for a far higher percentage of traffic fatalities on Long Island, in Brooklyn and in many other parts of the state than the national average, and an AARP-commissioned 2014 survey of New York voters 50 and over found large numbers cited traffic safety-related issues as problems in their communities.”

“We would like to thank Senators Martins, Golden, Funke, Bonacic, and Murphy, who have taken a leadership role voicing their support for $20 million in dedicated funding for pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure," said  Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “More than a quarter of the fatalities on our roads are pedestrians and bicyclists—the worst record in the nation. If approved in the final state budget, this funding will be particularly crucial to Complete Streets efforts in communities throughout New York, efforts that will improve the safety of our roads for all users.”

According to Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design 2014 study, New York pedestrians 65 and older died at a rate of 4.9 per 100,000 from 2003 to 2010, compared with 1.5 per 100,000 among younger pedestrians – ranking New York third most dangerous in the nation for pedestrians 65 and above.

The study also found that from 2003 to 2012, pedestrians accounted for 54.9% of all traffic deaths in Brooklyn – more than twice the state average of 23.6% and more than four times the national average of 12.3%. The percentage was also high on Long Island (30.8% in Nassau County and 23.2% in Suffolk County), Westchester County (19.8%) and Monroe County (15.7%).

AARP’s 2014 survey of New York voters 50 and older found big majorities consider traffic safety issues to be a problem in their community, including 80% identifying streets that need repair, 67% citing cars not yielding to pedestrians, 47% citing traffic lights are timed too fast for safe pedestrian crossing, and 62% identifying sidewalks that are non-existent or narrow, poorly lit or in need of repair.

Contact: Erik Kriss, ekriss@aarp.org

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