October 18, 2021

City OKs transportation policy

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

A Cortland Transit bus drives Tuesday on Central Avenue in Cortland. A comprehensive city transportation policy adopted Tuesday includes broad recommendations, such as cooperation between Cortland Transit and the city schools bus system.

Cortland city planners will consider a variety of ways to make getting around the city cleaner, and easier for pedestrians and cyclists, under a resolution the Common Council adopted Tuesday night.

The New York State Complete Streets Policy, adopted unanimously, was passed by the state in 2011.

It states in order to achieve a cleaner transportation system, planners need to consider all road users, including motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, public transportation users and people of all ages and abilities. Ninety-one municipalities in the state have adopted such policies.

“It promotes walkable communities, safer communities, it’s better for health and it encourages people to walk as opposed to driving,” Mayor Brian Tobin said.

Susan Williams, project manager for Seven Valleys Health Coalition, had approached Tobin in February about adopting the policy.

With the city voting Tuesday to support the Paris Climate Agreement, Tobin has called the timing of the policy’s passage serendipitous.

“This is a voice at the table for all,” said Christella Yonta, a former Seven Valleys employee and current executive director for United Way of Cortland County, who helped develop the policy.

The policy will also work to achieve some of the goals listed in the city of Cortland’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan:

* Ensure pedestrian and bike access and safety in new developments by incorporating sidewalks and trails, contrasting colors and materials to call attention to business entrances, bicycle racks and similar non-motorized amenities.

* Provide a high level of maintenance for downtown infrastructure.

* Link new housing developments via sidewalks.

* Improve the city’s transportation network to benefit the city’s school district and faculty.

* Maintain, enhance and encourage pedestrian and bicycle routes.

* Beautify the city and promote a sustainable environment.

There are some instances where using the Complete Street principles would not be necessary, such as:

* Roads where use by bicyclists or pedestrians is prohibited by law, such as interstate highway corridors.

* Where cost or other effects are disproportionate to the need.

* Where following the principles increases danger.

* Routine maintenance activities.

Adopting the policy costs nothing, and no immediate changes to streets are planned. Tobin said the benefits would outweigh the future costs.