Quigley Succeeds in Push for New FHWA Ped and Bike Safety Standards

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Congressman Mike Quigley, center, on a tour of Chicago bike facilities. Photo: John Greenfield

This week the Federal Highway Administration released new performance measures for non-motorized transportation that are designed to help states measure and increase safety for people on foot and bike riders. North Side congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05), who lobbied for these new standards, and the advocacy group Ride Illinois applauded the move as a step in the right direction towards reducing pedestrian and bike injuries and fatalities in our state.

The new non-motorized performance measures include five areas: number of fatalities, fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled, number of serious injuries, serious injury rate per vehicle miles traveled, and the number of non-motorized fatalities and non-motorized crashes. The FHWA is requiring every state to set a goal for each measure for the upcoming fiscal year, and each state will be judged on a five year rolling average.

States will be need to achieve four out of the five goals, or else face limitations on their use of FHWA Highway Safety Improvement Program funds. Failing states will also be required to write a new plan on how to improve their standards.

As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Quigley included language in the FY15 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee report calling on the FHWA to create the new safety standards. He also fought against changes to the bill that would have blocked funding for public transit, bike and pedestrian projects.

“While the number of motorists killed on our nation’s roads has fallen in recent years thanks to motorized safety performance standards, the number of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths is on the rise,” Quigley noted in a statement. “Last year, 17 percent of Illinois traffic fatalities were cyclists and pedestrians, which is simply unacceptable. The FHWA’s new standards are a much needed step in keeping our pedestrians and bicyclists out of harm’s way.”

Ed Barsotti, chief programs officer for Ride Illinois (formerly the League of Illinois Bicyclists) stated that the performance measures will help steer more funding towards preventing pedestrian and bike crashes. “The fraction of traffic deaths from walkers and bicycle riders has been growing without a measure focused on their safety,” he said. “Now with one in place, statewide education and enforcement campaigns can help stop this trend. Many thanks to Congressman Quigley for his leadership on this issue.”

Supporters of the non-motorized performance measure include: Landscape Architecture Bureau; Smart Growth America; National Center for Safe Routes to School; Transportation for America; American Traffic Safety Services Association; the AARP; and the American Heart Association, along with 15 U.S. Senators and 77 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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