I’ve talked recently with several county residents about the tragic accident that took the life of a Congers bicyclist on August 16th. Edward Brophy, a local artist, musician and former NYPD cop, was sharing the road with other, much larger vehicles when he died. This unfortunate incident highlights some of the shortcomings of our existing suburban infrastructure and transportation systems – shortcomings that my administration recognized months ago, and has already set out improve.
Last week, I unveiled a transformative new approach for Rockland County’s streets that will accommodate the needs of all users, not just those behind the wheel. Our Complete Streets Initiative is meant to provide safe, accessible and convenient use by motorists, bicyclists, public transit riders, pedestrians and people of all abilities. The new policy, detailed in an Executive Order, will be achieved over time as improvements to existing roadways and redevelopment occur.
The Complete Streets Initiative recognizes that all streets are different. The function of the road, current and projected adjacent land use and travel demands, availability of right-of-way, community input and the level of vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic must all be considered in decisions regarding enhancements. The ultimate goal, where appropriate, is walkable and bike-friendly neighborhoods with amenities such as trees and landscaping.
As part of this effort, I have directed all County departments to consider planning and design features that accommodate and facilitate convenient access and mobility by all users of our roadway network in the planning, design, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of future projects.
In short, I want to ensure that all future roadway construction utilizes the principals contained in the initiative. The County’s Planning, Highway, Health, Public Transportation, Tourism and other departments will responsible for administration of the plan. There will also be annual reporting to my office and the Legislature to ensure transparency and accountability.
Rockland County is joining several municipalities, large and small, that are already utilizing a Complete Streets approach, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation and numerous state transportation agencies.
With our new Complete Streets policy, the County of Rockland takes a strong position that our transportation system will connect residents and visitors, regardless of age, ability, or mode of travel, to work, school, shopping and home. As we look to build a safer and healthier county, it is more important than ever to re-imagine our approach to streets, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, public transit, bike paths and lanes.
As a former police officer, I fully understand the importance of this initiative. When we plan for walkers, cyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as cars, trucks and buses, safety is enhanced, traffic efficiency is increased and our communities are more accessible. This ultimately results in healthier neighborhoods, both physically and economically.
With this formalized policy, my administration will leave a legacy by helping to ensure that Rockland’s transportation system is safe for all people, and is intended to help create and maintain economically vibrant communities.