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Schatz Introduces New Bill To Make Streets Safer For Those Who Walk, Ride Bikes

Legislation Would Improve Road Safety Standards, Help Reduce Pedestrian, Cyclist Deaths

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today introduced new legislation to improve road safety standards and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

“For too long, transportation policy has been focused on how we can fit more cars on our roads, but that isn’t the only way people travel. My bill will make it safer for everyone to use our streets – whether it’s on foot or on a bike,” said Senator Schatz, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation.

In just a decade, the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles nationally rose by roughly 50 percent. And for cyclists, the death rate also remains high, with more than 800 people killed while riding a bike in 2019 alone. The Vulnerable Road Users Safety Act aims to stop this troubling trend by utilizing technology, infrastructure, and design expertise to vastly reduce pedestrian and cyclist road deaths.

Schatz’s legislation implements National Transportation Safety Board recommendations and directs the administrators of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and/or Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to:

  • Develop and update performance standards for visibility enhancement systems (i.e. for blindspot detection), connected vehicle technology, and vehicle headlamp systems;
  • Establish standards for vehicle bumpers;
  • Establish performance standards for automated pedestrian detection systems like automatic braking sensors; 
  • Include separated bike lanes and intersection safety treatments in the FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiatives and Proven Safety Countermeasures program;
  • Improve and coordinate information collection to share, combine, and publish detailed crash data allowing policy makers and governments to make data informed decisions.

The Vulnerable Road Users Safety Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and is supported by the Hawai‘i Bike League, Adventure Cycling Association, America Walks, American Planning Association, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, East Coast Greenway Alliance, League of American Bicyclists, North American Bikeshare Association, National Association of City Transportation Officials, National Resources Defense Council, PeopleForBikes, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Safe Routes Partnership, and the Vision Zero Network.

“This legislation recognizes that smarter approaches to transportation through good planning, data, and better design can help end the epidemic of bike and pedestrian injuries and fatalities. APA applauds the leadership of Senator Schatz in introducing the Vulnerable Road Users Safety Act to provide solutions that will make our communities safer for biking and walking,” said Leo Asuncion, AICP, President of the American Planning Association.

The full text of the bill is available here.


Related Issues

  1. Housing & Transportation