AARP ‘Complete Streets’ legislation tries again - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

AARP ‘Complete Streets’ legislation tries again

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Legislation often takes a few tries to become law in West Virginia, and members of AARP West Virginia hope the second time could be the charm for "Complete Streets."

The idea of complete streets has been a push from AARP at the national level, and the message is to plan with all age groups and all modes of transportation in mind.

Coralette Hannon with AARP's State Advocacy and Strategy Integration Group addressed lawmakers Tuesday at an interim committee meeting. Hannon briefed lawmakers on the idea of complete streets and a few success stories from other states.

Hannon said there are nearly 300,000 AARP members in West Virginia. She said complete streets make residents healthy, and they do not require a new pot of funding.

Hannon and several local AARP representatives addressed the concern that complete streets legislation is an "unfunded mandate," and that line of thinking could be why the legislation traveled far last year through the legislative process, but it did not make it to the governor's desk.

Hannon said complete streets can be a statement of policy or vision that highways departments and governments consider the needs of all users in project planning and development.

Hannon said walking, bicycling and sharing rides serves all age groups, not just the elderly, but complete streets help people stay in their homes and communities as they age, something AARP has found 9 out of 10 people say they want to do.

"How do you complete streets?" Hannon asked during her presentation. "You put them on a diet."

Hannon said situations such as four-lane roads broken down into two travel lanes with a turn lane, bike lanes and pedestrian refuge islands or even a few additions such as raised cross walks and textured pavements can keep communities safer.

Lawmakers asked members of AARP West Virginia to play "devil's advocate" to examine why the legislation did not pass last year, and the answers were confusion about whether the legislation required spending that departments either didn't have or were hesitant to spend.

AARP West Virginia will host a complete streets workshop from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 23 at Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown.