As national cyclist and pedestrian deaths continue to climb, Complete Streets – the movement to make roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users and motorists – has an advocate in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Conservative Representative Lenette Peterson of Merrimack, who lists ‘getting handguns back in the state house,’ among her policy priorities, is proposing a bill that would require the state to widen shoulders and bicycle lanes, in compliance with the Complete Streets guidelines offered by Smart Growth America.
Peterson’s expected bill would require that roads have adequate room for cyclists, pedestrians, construction workers and other non-motorists when painting lane lines and constructing new roads. However, Peterson says, “we know that not all streets are going to be able to follow the complete street guidelines.” In those situations, state planners would be exempt from the law. “What this bill would ask,” Peterson says, “ is when it can’t be done, say why.”
The bill won’t require a fiscal note, Peterson says, so it won’t cost the state more money. “I think it’s a bipartisan bill,” she says, “I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Peterson is an avid cyclist who was inspired to sponsor the bill by her own frustrations with disappearing bike lanes. But, she says, it’s not just cyclists who would benefit from wider shoulders and bike lanes. Construction workers and police, for example, are often put in danger when roads have inadequate shoulder room.