• To Improve Road Safety in Delaware, the Federal “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act” Is Important

    by  • March 4, 2014 • Legislation and Policy, Safety • 4 Comments


    I am in Washington, DC today where I will be speaking at the National Bike Summit about how advocates can be effective in fighting for improved road safety.

    Tomorrow (Wednesday) Delaware’s cycling delegation, led by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, will head to Capitol Hill to deliver a similar road safety message directly to Delaware’s congressional delegation (Sens. Carper and Coons and Representative Carney). We will be asking our congressional delegation for their support for the federal “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act” in the United States Congress.

    What is the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety (“BPS”) Act? Well, one thing it is is perhaps one of the shortest bills ever introduced in Congress!

    The BPS Act is not a 7,000 page bill. In fact, it’s not even a 7 page bill. It’s a 7 word bill. All it would do is insert these 7 words (shown in red below) to the section of the United States Code governing the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (“HSIP”).

    USC Title 23 Section §150. National goals and performance management measures
    (c) Establishment of Performance Measures
    (4) Highway safety improvement program.-For the purpose of carrying out section 148, the Secretary shall establish measures for States to use to assess
    (A) serious injuries and fatalities per vehicle mile traveled;
    (B) the number of serious injuries and fatalities for both motorized and nonmotorized transportation.

    Why are these 7 words important?

    They are important because HSIP is the main federal road safety program.  Every single year this federal program sends billions of dollars to the states with basically one mandate: improve road safety!

    And data suggests that, at least for motor vehicle occupant safety, HSIP has been successful. Last year, overall traffic fatalities fell to their lowest level in 50 years. But this decline has been entirely driven by a decline in motor vehicle occupant fatalities. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have not fallen. In fact, over a quarter of traffic fatalities in Delaware are now pedestrians. Over 25%!

    And yet, despite the urgent need for improving pedestrian and cyclist safety, the plain fact is that the data also shows that Delaware (as well as nearly all other states) has not used HSIP to improve either pedestrian or cyclist safety. Look at all these zeros:

    Source: FHWA Fiscal Management Information System

    Source: FHWA Fiscal Management Information System

    The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act before Congress aims to change this. By making “non-motorized transportation” into a performance measure for HSIP, it will create a measure by which departments of transportation can start to hold themselves accountable for pedestrian and cyclist safety. It creates a number to measure and that’s critical because without a number to measure, how can DOT leaders be expected to manage?

    (L-R) Representatives Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Howard Coble of North Carolina, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Michael McCaul of Texas

    (L-R) Representatives Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Howard Coble of North Carolina, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Michael McCaul of Texas introduced the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act in the House of Representatives.

    We hope that Senators Coons in the Senate and Representative Carney in the House will join their colleagues and become co-sponsors of this short, simple and important piece of legislation. We will ask them to do so, tomorrow, in person at their offices in Washington, DC.



      James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware.






    • House Majority Leader Will Lead Delaware’s Cycling Delegation to Washington DC

    • Road Safety in Delaware: How We Can Reduce the Number of Dead Pedestrians (Part 1)

    Why Cyclists Get Hit

    Stop SMIDSY

    • News Journal Front Page: “Pedestrians at high risk”

    • Traffic Fatalities Are Declining in Delaware…Except for Pedestrians and Bicyclists


    James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware. He is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (by whom he was named the 2014 Professional of the Year, Nonprofit Sector), the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Delaware Bicycle Council. He serves on the board of directors of Delaware Greenways and the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance and as the co-chair of the policy committee of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin and is the only registered lobbyist for cycling and walking in Delaware. He helped create, and continues to lead Bike Delaware's participation in, the Walkable Bikeable Delaware campaign. During his tenure as Bike Delaware's executive director, Delaware advanced in the national Bicycle Friendly State rankings for five years in a row, farther and faster than any other state, ever.

    4 Responses to To Improve Road Safety in Delaware, the Federal “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act” Is Important

    1. Pingback: Can We Spend Our Way Out of Sprawl? | Streetsblog.net

    2. Frank Warnock
      March 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      The current success rate for bills like this is about 4%.

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