RFATS Long-Range Transportation Plan Comments by Bike/Ped Coalition & Eat Smart Move More York County Advocacy Committees

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by Bike/Ped Coalition of York County and Eat Smart Move More York County Advocacy Committees – Lynn Caldwell, Luther Dasher, Elizabeth (Liz) Duda, Dr. Dave Keely, Ben Ullman, Karen van Vierssen, and Steve Yaffe

Nov. 5, 2020 (York County, SC) The Rock Hill-Fort Mill-Area Transportation Study (RFATS) metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is updating the long-range transportation plan (LRTP or plan) to reflect and address all facets of transportation planning needs in the RFATS area. RFATS covers eastern York County (Catawba Nation, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill and Tega Cay) and the Lancaster County panhandle. RFATS currently is accepting stakeholder feedback to identify needs, priorities and transportation initiatives that we believe would be helpful for RFATS to include in the 2050 LRTP update. The LRTP is the blueprint to guide transportation investments in our region over the next 30 years. The Bike/Ped Coalition of York County and Eat Smart Move More York County advocacy committees appreciate this opportunity to urge RFATS to give greater consideration to active transportation and transit and ensure that funding goes to specific biking, walking and transit projects in the 2050 LRTP Plan.

Transportation is critical to the health and economic development of a metropolitan area including in York County. When people can walk, bike, or take transit safely to a destination, the whole region benefits from healthier people, better air quality, and reduced traffic fatalities. As RFATS updates the plan, Bike/Ped Coalition of York County and Eat Smart Move More York County advocacy committees encourage the MPO to focus on health, safety, equity and sustainability through support for multimodal and active transportation and sound land-use planning. We appreciate the representation of bike/ped in the 2045 LRTP but recognize areas for enhancement, which we note below.

Chapter 3: Goals, Objectives & Performance Measures

Health

The Bike/Ped Coalition of York County and Eat Smart Move More York County advocacy committees encourage RFATS to think broadly about health as a value and goal and include health considerations in vision, goals and objectives, to support healthy, thriving, equitable communities. We suggest you add “provide the transportation facilities necessary for local communities to grow in a healthy and sustainable way” as a goal[1] in the plan.

Transportation provides access to jobs, education, services, and recreational activities – critical determinants of health and health equity. However, many RFATS-area residents cannot drive themselves to those destinations and others would use safe alternatives to driving. Low-income communities and vulnerable groups such as seniors, persons with disabilities, women, and children and youth, have higher reliance on walking, bicycling, and public transit to get around. Prioritizing transportation investments based on health-equity impacts can reduce the disproportionate injuries and deaths in low-income communities by addressing inequities in access to sidewalks, safe crossings, street lights, and other features[2][3][4].

Land-use design and transportation options impact whether older adults can “age in place” in their home communities without having to drive, which reduces social isolation and improves health outcomes[5].

Physical activity is essential for health; active transportation is key to making higher physical activity levels the norm. Most Americans do not get enough physical activity, increasing their danger of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases[6]. People who travel by car are more sedentary, which is associated with chronic disease and premature death [7]. Planning and design should support walking, bicycling, and other forms of active transportation to enable physical activity to be part of people’s daily routines. Walking and biking support mental health and psychological well-being, including reducing likelihood of dementia and depression[8].

Safety

The Bike/Ped Coalition of York County and Eat Smart Move More York County advocacy committees appreciate RFATS’ goal #3 to “provide mobility choices” (p. 3-6) in the 2045 LRTP[9]. However, consistent with goal #1, “provide safe, secure, reliable roadway travel” (p. 3-5), we ask you to enhance goal #3 to “provide safe, secure, reliable mobility choices.”

We appreciate that the objectives related to goal #3 (mobility choices) are inclusive of bike/ped. But we encourage you to include more robust performance measures with measurable targets. We refer you to the RFATS 2050 LRTP Plan Comment submitted by Steve Yaffe of Fort Mill on October 13 for more specific recommendations. Securing inclusion of goals, objectives and performance measures on physical activity levels, safety and air quality will help ensure that projects selected for funding will have a positive impact on health and safety.

Regarding goal #2, “manage congestion,” objective #1, “make improvements to fully utilize capacity on the existing road network before constructing new lanes or facilities” (p. 3-6), we request you add after “improvements” “including facilities for non-motorized alternatives.” Related, as you “make improvements to fully utilize capacity on the existing road network,” you may find takeaways from these three writeups to be valuable:

Bike/Ped

Regarding goal #4, “promote consistency of the LRTP with other regional plans” (p. 3-7), we appreciate your references to “increasing trips made by alternative transportation” (objective #1) and “promote compact, walkable development patterns along the proposed future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor” (objective #2).

Chapter 5: Safety and Security Element

Regarding the LRTP safety element, we encourage you to commit to Vision Zero.

RFATS notes that South Carolina’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan: Target Zero provides the framework for RFAT’s planning documents. We observe that no 2015-2018 state goal (page 5-3) relates to non-motorized users. RFATS must do better. RFATS should enhance the 2045 LRTP goal #1, “provide safe, secure, reliable roadway travel,” objective 3b, “reduce crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists” (p. 3-5) to target zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries.” Everyone has the right to move safely in our communities. Road systems and policies should be designed to lessen the severity of crashes to ensure that inevitable human error does not result in severe injuries or fatalities. Mobility can be made safer through roadway design, speeds, behaviors, technology and policies.

Chapter 4: Roadway Element

Within project selection, please include public safety considerations as a selection factor when ranking new location projects as there is with intersections, widening, and any interstate projects.

Chapter 6: Congestion Management Process

We encourage you to integrate multi-modal transportation, including bike/ped and transit, into the congestion management process, as these are proven measures to manage demand for traffic lanes.

Chapter 9: Bicycle and Pedestrian Element

We recognize RFATS’ critical role in ensuring that the state incorporate safe bike/ped access and opportunities into highway projects (especially around K-12 schools) and identifying funding, as described in the Bicycle-Pedestrian Element’s Implementation. “The statewide plan notes that SCDOT works collaboratively with local jurisdictions to identify suitable bicycle improvements (such as shoulders or restriping with bike lanes) to incorporate in highway projects, as well as to identify funding for these projects. However, local support from MPOs, particularly in advance of the project design process, is seen as critical to implementing bicycle and pedestrian improvements. The responsibility is therefore on MPOs and municipalities to bring these issues to the table during project discussions.”  We ask that RFATS and member municipalities consult with the Bike/Ped Coalition of York County and other local active transportation advocacy organizations or organization chapters while developing new streets or repaving existing streets.

Bike/Ped Coalition of York County – supporting York County becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly through education, advocacy, and promotion of the health, economic, environmental, and social benefits of bicycling and walking

Eat Smart Move More York County – leading a unified movement to make the healthy choice the easy choice


[1] RFATS goals are broad, qualitative statements indicating a general direction for the plan.

[2] K. Gibbs, S. Slater, N. Nicholson, et al., Income Disparities in Street Features that Encourage Walking – A BTG Research Brief. Chicago, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago (2012). http://www.bridgingthegapresearch. org/_asset/02fpi3/btg_street_walkability_FINAL_03-09-12.pdf

[3] Sarkar, C., Webster, C., Gallacher, J. (2018). Neighbourhood walkability and incidence of hypertension: Findings from the study of 429,334 UK Biobank participants. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 221. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1438463917305813

[4] M. Maciag, Pedestrians Dying at Disproportionate Rates in America’s Poorer Neighborhoods, Governing (August 2014), http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-pedestriandeaths-analysis. html; League of American Bicyclists, “The New Majority, Pedaling Towards Equity,” http://www.ssti.us/ wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Sierra-+-LAB-bikeequity_report-May-2013.pdf

[5] See, e.g., Astrid Kemperman et al., “Loneliness of Older Adults: Social Network and the Living Environment,” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Feb; 16(3): 406, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388289/.

[6] 1 Regina Benjamin, “Surgeon General’s Perspectives: The importance of 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity,” Public Health Reports, 2013; 128: 350- 51, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734735/.

[7] Laura Sandt et al., “Leveraging the Health Benefits of Active Transportation: Creating an Actionable Agenda for Transportation Professionals,” TR News, MayJune 2012, http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/trnews/trnews280.pdf.

[8] California Department of Public Health, Health and Environmental Benefits of Active Transportation and Complete Streets, http://sgc.ca.gov/docs/funding/ Health_and_Environmental_Benfits_of_Active_Transportation_and_Complete_Streets_12.23.pdf

[9] The four RFATS 2045 LRTP goals are: 1) Provide safe, secure, reliable roadway travel. 2) Manage congestion. 3) Provide mobility choices. 4) Promote consistency of the LRTP with other regional plans.

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