Complete Streets

You may or may not have heard the term complete streets. It comes up in various bicycle advocacy discussions, but I wanted to find out more about it. I will try to give a few basics but really the CompleteStreets.org website explains things very clearly if you want more details.

Complete streets is an effort to make transportation planners consider all the users and not just cars. This means pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit riders, and people in wheel chairs should all be considered when spending public money planning and building a transportation system. That makes sense because the public does all these things. Even the most avid drivers have to get out of their car sometimes and cross the street on foot.

Taking this type of view seems much better than a cycling specific one. It emphasizes a fair allocation of resources rather than feeling like a special interest asking for something only for them, like a bike lane.

It also casts a different light on issues like blocking off a bike lane so that cars can’t get in them, but at the cost of pedestrians, especially ones with a walker or wheel chair, who are blocked from crossing the street. In a complete streets pal, all the uses would be considered. Then we could develop solutions that work for everyone.

Complete streets are currently part of many places, at least in the planning. Sometimes they are legislation, but other times they are just internal policies, resolutions, planning or design guides. You can check out the Complete Street Atlasto see all the places in the USA taking this healthy view of transportation.