Pete Buttigieg Rewards Cities that Promote Wider Sidewalks, Cycling, and Public Transit
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You will get out of your car and you will enjoy it, by order of the government. That is the message Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will deliver Monday when billions of dollars is made available under his department’s new Safe Streets & Roads for All program to cities that get people to ditch their motor vehicles for alternative forms of transport. Forever.

The Biden administration is steering $5 billion in federal aid to localities carving out bike paths and wider sidewalks while nudging commuters to public transit and cycling as an alternative to driving.

AP reports the aim will be to provide a direct infusion of federal cash to communities that pledge to promote safety for the multiple users of a roadway, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists.

The argument is that too many people are dying in car accidents for that method of transport to be sustainable and alternatives must be sought – and rewarded with taxpayer cash.

“We face a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways, and these tragedies are preventable — so as a nation we must work urgently and collaboratively to save lives,” Buttigieg said. He said the money “will help communities large and small take action to protect all Americans on our roads.”

“We have become far too accustomed to the loss of life and serious injuries happening on our roadways,” he observed.

File/Bicyclists ride along Market Street on May 9, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has installed an automated real-time bike counter, also known as a bicycle barometer, on Market Street that will display daily and annual counts. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Previewing the upcoming data, Steven Cliff, the acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told an event last week the final figures would show “alarming” increases for the full year of 2021, according to the AP report.

Roadway deaths represent about 95 percent of all U.S. transportation deaths, at more than 38,000 in 2020. In 2021, data released so far has already shown U.S. traffic fatalities rising to 31,720 through the third quarter, the highest nine-month period since 2006.

Before 2020, the number of U.S. traffic deaths had fallen for three straight years.

The department’s effort is part of a new national strategy, launched in January, to stem record increases in road fatalities with a “safe system” approach that promotes better road design, lower speed limits and tougher car safety regulations.

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