Safe Routes Scoop

Takin' it to the Streets:
Creating Complete Streets

The American Association of Retired Persons, the American Planning Association, The League of American Bicyclists, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers are just a few of the organizations that routinely fund and support the coalition’s work. Stephanie Potts of Complete the Streets said the coalition promotes its policy goals “mostly by leveraging our coalition and connecting them with activists on the ground to advance local level and state-wide campaigns.”  Potts says the coalition is currently focusing on supporting communities that have enacted complete streets policies to help them begin construction.


McCann contends that concerns raised by some opponents that complete streets will increase roadway construction costs are a myth.  She said that the higher costs result from fixing streets that were constructed improperly at the beginning. While improving poorly designed streets is certainly welcome, McCann said, the coalition focuses on promoting new complete streets. “Complete street(s) policy is about changing standards from here on out, about changing practice as things move forward, not about immediately retrofitting streets everywhere,” she said.


Complete Streets Policies Around the Nation
Several states and cities have

developed complete streets policies; some of the most notable include Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Colorado Springs; San Diego; and West Palm Beach, Florida.


Charlotte adopted a complete streets policy that has drastically altered the way local transportation professionals go about daily business.  According to McCann, Charlotte transportation officials used the complete streets model unofficially for several years until it was officially approved this past fall.  The city developed a unique six-step planning process which improves its ability to accommodate all street users. (See Table A).  Now, pedestrians and bicyclists are included in the planning process from the inception of a given project.


On the state level, the Illinois legislature recently enacted a complete streets policy into law.  Driving this development was the tragic death of a teenager who was attempting to bicycle across an auto-dominated bridge with no alternate accommodations. The state has since altered the bridge, Illinois’ new complete streets policy is meant to establish bicyclists and pedestrians as recognized road users in all future projects to prevent similar accidents from occurring.


Complete streets policies have had an effect on the federal level.  In 2000, the Complete the Streets

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