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The Role of Mayors In Transportation Planning

February 2, 2015
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Last week, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the “Mayors Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets.” Foxx, who was the mayor of Charlotte from 2009 to 2013, urges mayors to make pedestrian and bike safety a priority for the next year. While road deaths in other categories have dropped over the last few years, the rate of biking and pedestrian deaths in the US has trended upwards since 2009.

A big part of pedestrian and bike safety is street design, and a major part of the Mayors Challenge is committing to take a Complete Streets approach to making transportation decisions. The Mayors Challenge isn’t a funding solution, but it is an opportunity for mayors to take on the challenge of assessing the current state of their street design guidelines and actively pursue the best practices to transform their transportation networks

A study of over 70 US mayors finds that regardless of city size, mayors often had the same priorities: growing their cities while managing transportation and operations within their limited budget constraints. The three most common policy priorities cited by US mayors for the next year are eco­nomic development, quality of life and infrastruc­ture.

However, mayors can’t transform their cities completely on their own. The mayors of San Francisco and Seattle, in particular, have come out and said that they do need the help of the federal government on transportation issues, particularly infrastructure. As American cities continue to grow, a national urban agenda and support from the federal government is necessary to ensure that our cities succeed.

But it looks like we’ll need the mayors of our cities to get it started.


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