As more people in Utica are riding bicycles as a mode of transportation, many cyclists say the government needs to make streets safer and more accessible for biking and walking. Congress is about to release a new transportation bill. In a resolution, the Utica City Council urged Congressman Richard Hanna to support an agreement that will allow small-scale transportation projects like bike lanes, sidewalks, and safer routes for students.
"Bicycle riding keeps people active, it keeps them moving and motivated to do things. It's not just a form of fitness, it's a mode of transportation for a lot of people," says Beth Marshall, Utica Velo Event Coordinator.
"I definitely ride around on my bike a lot, I don't have a car so it's how i get around. And it would definitely make it easier to get from place to place and also feel safe while doing so, if the bill was passed," says Mark Ziobro, Utica bicyclist.
Over 50,000 pedestrians were killed on American roads between 2001 and 2010. But some area bicycle advocates say that with better infrastructure and more community say, some of these lives could have been saved
"It's a very dangerous situation. I think that for Utica you'd have a more remedial program focusing on the main thoroughfares that cyclists would use in city itself, and fix the areas they would be using them, creating bike lanes and paths within the city itself," John Ossowski, CNY-BAP Coordinator.
Ossowski says there are many green benefits and health perks of bike travel as well.
"Up to 40% of people's car travel is actually under 2 miles. If you can take over some of those trips on a bicycle, you'd be reducing carbon emissions, wear and tear on automobile, expenses that go with gasoline and maintenance and you'd be getting some physical exercise," says John Ossowski.
Representative Hanna and Senator Schumer have been appointed transportation negotiators. Mr. Hanna says he hopes the state and city can come to an agreement to preserve funding for these street safety projects
"I personally agree with bicycle paths, I think they're a great mode and they do relive transportation and designated paths are certainly safer but we're gonna let the state's have more input in how much they spend on those items," says Representative Hanna.
If congressman Hanna and Senator Schumer preserve the agreement, they will help ensure Utica and other cities across the country are able to build sidewalks, bikeways, and other small projects to improve street safety.