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Should City Streets be Treated Like Highways?

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Dear Friend,

These two streets in Charlotte, North Carolina are very different. Why does the U.S. Department of Transportation want to measure their success the same way? 

One is intended to move goods and people, largely in vehicles, quickly between two points. The other moves people — in cars, in buses, on bikes, on foot — while also creating a framework to produce lasting value, economic activity, and a sense of place.

It doesn’t make sense to measure the success of these streets the same way.  

Yet that’s exactly what USDOT is proposing with new rules for how states and metro areas would have to measure and address congestion — prioritizing vehicle speed above almost all other criteria.

Last chance to speak up: sign a letter asking USDOT to change this proposed rule. 

These streets are in Charlotte, but I’m sure there are streets like both examples in your community too. The buildings in the photo on the right might be a little shorter (or taller!) where you live, but you know that streets have different purposes and shouldn’t all be treated the same.

The most successful city streets have to use limited space to move people efficiently, whether walking, biking, taking transit or driving. Yet this congestion rule as it is currently written would count only vehicles. 

Streets that move a lot of people should never be considered unsuccessful, even if they don’t necessarily move a lot of cars.

The proposed rule would make driving fast the ultimate goal of our transportation system, regardless of what type of road or street you’re on. Should driving fast be the highest priority on main streets where people go to shop or sit and eat at an outdoor café? Should moving cars quickly be the top priority in residential neighborhoods where children might be biking or walking?

We have a chance to change this rule, but time is running out. Public comments on the rule close this week, and now is a crucial time to speak out.  

Tell USDOT to improve their proposed rule and send a letter today.

Thanks for your support,

Stephen Lee Davis
Director of Communications
Transportation for America


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