This monthly newsletter issued by the National Complete Streets Coalition provides a roundup of news related to complete streets policies -- policies to ensure that the entire right of way is routinely designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Please pass it around! And visit www.completestreets.org to stay informed.
- Connecticut Becomes Tenth State with Complete Streets Law
- And Wisconsin Makes Eleven
- North Carolina Beefs Up Policy
- Michigan Include Complete Streets in Funding Bills
- Louisiana to Develop Guidelines
- Federal Policy Update
- Quick Takes: Policy Progress
- Annual Meeting Celebrates and Sets Course
- Trust for America's Health Releases 'F is for Fat' for 2009
- APBP Professional Development Seminar, Walk21 Conference
- Complete Streets: A Hit in Topeka
- Indiana Begins Push for Complete Streets
- Symposium in Sacramento
- News from Michigan
- Complete Streets Changing Minds in Hawaii
- Safe Routes to Transit in New Jersey
- Pedestrian Danger in Fayetteville, NC Emphasizes Need for Complete Streets
- Quick Takes: Complete Streets Talk Around the Country
- Incomplete Street Death
- Complete Streets Presentations
- Access Board APS Guidance
- Report: The Urgency of a New Federal Urban Policy
- Study: Smart Growth and Improved Transportation Choices Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Report: Spending the Stimulus at 120 Days
- Call for Best Practices in Context Sensitive Solutions
COMPLETE STREETS POLICY PROGRESS
Connecticut Becomes Tenth State with Complete Streets Law
Governor M. Jodi Rell signed Senate Bill 735, the Complete Streets bill, into law on Independence Day; the bill passed through the General Legislature last month, with both houses voting overwhelming in favor of the legislation. With that, Connecticut has become the tenth state to pass complete streets legislation and the second this year. We applaud Gov. Rell, State Representative Thomas Kehoe, and State Senator Donald DeFronzo in moving to make Connecticut streets safer for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or mode of travel. Effective immediately, the law mandates "accommodations for all users shall be a routine part of the planning, design, construction and operating activities" of all state highways. Beginning October 2010, 1% of transportation funding will be dedicated to construction of complete streets elements. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is now urging the Connecticut Department of Transportation to create internal policy that will designate at least 10% of federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects; similar language was in an earlier version of the SB 735.
And Wisconsin Makes Eleven
When Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle approved the state's budget, he also made complete streets a state law. Language in the budget, inserted by Senate President Fred Risser (D-26, Madison), creates a new section of the state statutes, directing Wisconsin DOT to include "bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in all new…construction and reconstruction projects unded in whole or in part from state funds or federal funds." (Creation of statutes through budget approval is a common process in Wisconsin.) Though it does not include public transportation as a specific mode or address the needs of older adults and those with disabilities, the law does have a limited number of exceptions to the policy that must be approved by the secretary of transportation or a designee of the secretary. The language is one of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's legislative accomplishments this year.
North Carolina Beefs Up Policy
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) stepped up its commitment to complete streets last Thursday with its adoption of a formal Complete Streets Policy. The newly unveiled Complete Streets Policy (.doc) builds on the Department's 2000 Resolution, Bicycling & Walking in North Carolina, which lacked detail or enforcement. The new policy - which incorporates public transportation as well as pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist travel - will require that NCDOT's planners and designers to "consider and incorporate multimodal alternatives in the design and improvement of all appropriate transportation projects within a growth area of a town or city;" any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Chief Deputy Secretary. It includes a number of other important elements of a Complete Streets Policy, including context-sensitivity.
Michigan Includes Complete Streets in Funding Bill
In Michigan, the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee included complete streets language from Rep. Jon Switalski (D-25) in the transportation funding bill, charging the Michigan DOT and local transportation agencies using state funding to adopt complete streets policies. While this is unlikely to be incorporated into the state statutes, it is an important first step for the state. The State Senate and House passed different versions of the bill, so the League of Michigan Bicyclists urge residents to contact their representatives to thank them for supporting the language and to include it in the final bill.
Louisiana to Develop Guidelines
The State Legislature in Louisiana passed a complete streets resolution (SCR 110) on June 25. The resolution requests the formation of a Complete Streets Work Group within the Louisiana Department of Transportation, with members from the Louisiana offices of AARP, the American Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and others. The Work Group will be tasked with developing complete streets guidelines that will apply to any state- or federally-funded transportation project. As part of this, the Work Group will develop context-sensitive design guidelines, develop any necessary state-level legislation, and create model design guidelines and ordinances for Louisiana communities. The final report will be delivered in the 2010 Legislative Session.
Federal Policy Update
Transportation Authorization: Next Steps for Complete Streets
The House Transportation bill, The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 (STAA) (.pdf), was released last month by Representatives Oberstar (MN), Mica (FL), DeFazio (OR), and Duncan (TN) and was then passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Complete streets, termed "comprehensive street design policies and principles," can be found in two places in the draft House bill: first, it directs the new Office of Livability to take steps to encourage States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to adopt complete streets policies; and second, it revises federal code to require new projects receiving federal aid be consistent with "comprehensive street design policies and principles," which must take into account the needs of all users of the transportation corridor.
We appreciate the potentially profound impact of this reform and are grateful for the leadership of Chairman Oberstar in including complete streets in the new bill. We look forward to working with him to strengthen the provisions in the Office of Livability by referring to language in the Complete Streets Act of 2009, (S 584/HR 1443). Specifically, we propose the addition of the clear list of the elements that make a complete streets policy successful, including acceptable exceptions to the requirement. This list of elements was derived from the experiences of cities and states that are already working to implement complete streets policies, and would be a valuable addition to the transportation bill.
In addition to continuing to work with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on STAA, we will also continue to grow co-sponsorship for S 584/HR 1443, the Complete Streets Act of 2009: thank you to Representatives Michael Doyle [PA-14], David Loebsack [IA-2], and Adam Schiff [CA-29], our latest co-sponsors. The Complete Streets Act would require state and regional policy adoption, a process that fits the needs of the community and ensures more buy-in from agency and elected officials.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Passes Transportation Bill Extension
Shortly before the House Transportation Bill was introduced, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the Obama Administration's preference for an 18 month extension of the current transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU). The Administration's position to wait until spring 2010 to tackle passing a new transportation bill was supported by Senate Environment Public Works Committee Chairwoman Boxer [CA] and Ranking Member Inhofe [OK]. While the Administration recommended including some reforms in the extension to pave the way for the next transportation bill, Boxer and Inhofe ensured that the 18 month SAFETEA-LU extension bill that passed out of their committee yesterday did not include any policy changes, and solely funds the continuation of existing programs. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership is opposed to extending SAFETEA-LU and still pressing ahead with passing a new transportation bill by the end of September.
Climate Bill Passes House
The US House of Representatives narrowly passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), last month. ACES is Congress's first attempt to address the growing problem of climate change. The bill, now awaiting action in the Senate, requires States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to address greenhouse gas reductions in their transportation planning, specifically by providing more ways for people to get around using public transportation, and by walking and biking. The term "complete streets" had been in the original version of the bill, but the language was changed to match the state and MPO planning language in STAA. In addition, states are allowed to use a small portion of the cap-and-trade auction revenues to pay for the matching funds on federally funded pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation projects. Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee examined the role that transportation can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Secretary LaHood testified on the need to invest in transportation choices, such as public transportation, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities.
Quick Takes: Policy Progress
- Washington, DC: The District's Bicycle Advisory Council has deemed complete streets its top legislative priority, in part influenced by Mayor Fenty's direct order to strip sidewalk plans from a recent street reconstruction project due to a well-connected neighborhood critic. It is the District Department of Transportation's policy to install sidewalks on at least one side of all such projects, and most residents were pleased with the plans to have two new sidewalks in the neighborhood. (via WashCycle and Greater Greater Washington)
- Siouxland Interstate MPO (IA, NE, SD): The Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council will review a complete streets resolution at its next meeting; if passed, it will be the first policy to cover parts of Nebraska and South Dakota. The Council is located in Sioux City, Iowa and serves parts of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. (via KTIV)
- New York: Dysfunction in the State Senate has stymied the Complete Streets bill (AB 8587), despite strong campaigns from AARP New York and the New York Bicycle Coalition. However, both groups urge constituents to meet with their representatives during August recess, as the bill could come up for vote this fall. (via Streetsblog New York and Green Options Buffalo)
- Cincinnati, OH: The City Council approved funding to develop a citywide Complete Streets program in the upcoming fiscal year. Michael Moore, interim director of the city's Transportation and Engineering Department, will draft the policy by fall 2009, then seek input from colleagues, stakeholders, and citizens. Soapbox Cincinnati has begun a series of long form opinion pieces on such a policy's positive effects in the City. (via CityBeat)
- Dayton, OH: The City's bicycle and pedestrian committee has been charged with mapping out the ways Dayton can become a livable, walkable city with complete streets. The committee held a Town Hall meeting last month, soliciting ideas on programs and enforcement measures to make the city's streets better for all users and improve the quality of life for its residents. (via Dayton Daily News)
Annual Meeting Celebrates and Sets Course
On June 19th more than 50 partners in the National Complete Streets Coalition gathered for our Annual Meeting designed to set our course for the next year. We met at the headquarters of the American Public Transportation Association, with lunch and coffee provided by the consulting firm, Ball Janik.
The meeting was an opportunity to celebrate the tremendous progress of the movement, with more than 90 policies now in place across the country. Attendees considered how to take advantage of the bounty of opportunities before us: how can we best nurture complete streets campaigns popping up across the country? How can we work effectively with complete streets champions on Capitol Hill and in the Obama Administration, as we seek a federal complete streets policy? The staff and Steering Committee will be integrating the results of the meeting into our Action Plan so the coming year can be as successful as the last. Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to a productive annual meeting.
Trust for America's Health Releases 'F is for Fat' for 2009
In the report F is for Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009, the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show forty-nine states now have obesity rates over 20 percent, with no state improving since last year. The report recommends Complete Streets at the federal and local level as one policy solution, highlighting the opportunity that transportation infrastructure can offer as places for physical activity and healthy living. The report notes that Complete Streets policies cover two interventions endorsed by health experts: incorporating sidewalks and bike lanes into community design and providing funding for biking and walking in highway projects. Time Magazine addressed the report this month too, focusing on southern states where obesity rates are very high. Among the contributors to this problem, the article names the lack of public transportation, sidewalks, and paved shoulders that discourage residents from walking or jogging.
APBP Professional Development Seminar, Walk21 Conference
The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) will hold this year's Professional Development Seminar (PDS) this October 7-9 in conjunction with the Walk21 Conference in New York City. The PDS program will focus on the technical aspects of bicycle facilities and how to bring world-class bicycle facilities to the local level. Walk21 will have breakouts, plenary sessions, and 'walk-shops' on building walkable, sustainable communities. Registration for both events is now open.
Complete Streets: A Hit in Topeka
Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods (HHN), a coalition of Topeka and Shawnee County citizens and organizations, hosted a Complete Streets Pep Rally on Wednesday, June 24, after two days of workshops and community meetings with elected officials, decision makers, and advocates. Complete Streets instructors Michael Moule and Dom Nozzi, brought to town by HHN, spoke about the benefits of a complete streets policy in Topeka. They were also part of a ½-hour television special to be aired during prime time in Topeka. HHN has submitted a series of blog posts explaining complete streets to the Capital-Journal. The City is already looking to develop a bikeway plan as a next step in complete streets.
Indiana Begins Push for Complete Streets
More than 150 partners gathered on June 29th & 30th in Indianapolis to learn about the importance of Complete Streets and to organize a campaign to develop both state and local policies. The event, sponsored by AARP Indiana and hosted by the Health by Design coalition, kicked off a coordinated effort to ensure that Indiana streets are consistently designed and operated for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. Randy Neufeld of the National Complete Streets Coalition led the two-day event; read more about it on our blog.
Symposium in Sacramento
On Friday, July 10th, 251 people packed the ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento for a complete streets symposium. Presented by the Local Government Commission, with funding from the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (a Complete Streets Partner) and others, the workshop's presenters included experts in public health, planning and policy. Sacramento, home of H.R. 1443 (Complete Streets Act of 2009) sponsor Congresswoman Doris Matsui, has seen a number of agencies adopt complete streets policies in various forms, including legislation, general plans and sales tax expenditure measures. In addition to considering the health, transportation and ecological contexts of complete streets, the conference attendees explored technical and organizational implementation strategies. The enthusiasm of the participants makes Sacramento appear poised to maintain a position of national leadership in the complete streets movement. A Sacramento Bee writer shares his perspective on the event, and you can see the presentations and watch video from the event online.
COMPLETE STREETS NEWS
News from Michigan
Beyond the complete streets language introduced in the State's transportation bill (see Policy Progress, above, for more), there has been a flurry of complete streets activity in the state. The League of Michigan Bicyclists and the Michigan Environmental Council are forming a new statewide coalition. The Michigan Complete Streets Coalition will work for state and local adoption and implementation of complete streets policies. Among those local communities is Lansing, where Walk and Bike Lansing has gathered 5,000 signatures and will put Complete Streets on the ballot this fall. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is also taking something of a complete streets view with a new project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In paving over 50 miles of roadway along M-13 and US-23, MDOT will include paved shoulders to accommodate non-motorized traffic in the area.
Complete Streets Changing Minds in Hawaii
"Our roads are no longer going to go just through communities, we want them to be part of the communities," said State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka. After a forum this month on "Creating Livable Communities for an Aging Population," Morioka's sentiment is shared by many. Accommodating all users, including aging drivers and pedestrians is especially important in the islands, as Hawaii's residents aged 65 and older will double in number by 2030. "The first thing to do is to slow roads down, so pedestrians and motorists understand what is going on and have time to react at that intersection," said Jana Lynott, main author of AARP's report Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America and keynote speaker at the forum. Morioka emphasized that communities will have a say in what features their respective streets will have, and that not all streets will have to be the same. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that policy-makers in the state are also on board with the complete streets mission, including Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Governor Linda Lingle, who signed a complete streets law earlier this year.
Safe Routes to Transit in New Jersey
The State of New Jersey will spend $5 million to create complete streets around public transportation stations. The initiative, part of a $74 million Pedestrian Safety Initiative, will install and upgrade sidewalks, install curbs, and improve lighting and drainage on the roads around public transportation stops. Such improvements will improve safety and encourage increased public transportation use by making it easier to walk or bike to stations and stops. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign notes that the projects can also "help alleviate the need for station parking and be a boon for businesses around station areas as downtown walk-by traffic increases." Approximately 30% of NJ residents live within a half-mile of a train station, making these multimodal investments especially worthwhile.
Pedestrian Danger in Fayetteville, NC Emphasizes Need for Complete Streets
In the last year, four pedestrians died and 77 were injured on Fayetteville's streets. The Fayetteville Observer reports that the there is an average of slightly more than one pedestrian crossing signal for every 6 intersections in Fayetteville - lower than other North Carolina larger cities, and insufficient in light of the number of pedestrian deaths in the city. Maintenance of existing crossing signals has also been a problem. The city's traffic engineer, Rusty Thompson, believes that improvements could be made to provide more and better crosswalks and crossing signals, but identifying funding and the best places for new installation are a challenge. With increasing traffic build-up, the City will needs to make crossing safe for pedestrians a priority, according to a database specialist with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. In addition, the state DOT will need to favor pedestrian-friendly design; late last week, the DOT did indeed show its move to complete streets with a new, detailed internal policy. See above for more information.
Quick Takes: Complete Streets Talk Around the Country
- Delaware: Delaware's beach communities will become much more safe, thanks to Governor Jack Markell's recently-issued Executive Order on Complete Streets, especially as these areas have high pedestrian and bicyclist activity. (via Delmarva Now)
- Sacramento, CA: Lavada DeSalles of AARP, who spoke at May's Complete Streets Briefing in DC, and Chris Morfas, of Complete Streets Partner organization Sacramento Air Quality Management District, spoke about complete streets on Capital Public Radio on June 12.
- Kansas City, MO: As reported in past newsletters, although there has been a lot of grassroots support for Complete Streets policy in the Missouri, for the last two years Missouri DOT has kept the policy from passing by lobbying against it. The Kansas City Pitch discusses the varying opinions on a state agency doubling as lobbyists.
- New York: The Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany and Cattaraugus County's Southern Tier Wellness Partnership, with funding from New York State's Healthy Heart Program, will work with ten communities in upstate New York to establish complete streets policies to improve physical activity.
- Wilkes-Barre, PA: Allen Gregory, at the Citizens Voice, recently opined on the value of complete streets. "There is, frankly, no good argument why walking and bicycling should not be recognized as legitimate forms of transportation in our state and region," he says.
- Fairfax County, VA: Fairfax County has re-opened debate on becoming a city so that it will have better control over road projects, in part to emulate nearby Arlington County where a complete streets policy allows them to make streets attractive for all users. Arlington is also more able to link transportation and land use planning, fulfilling its overall vision. (via Fairfax Times)
Incomplete Street Death
In Long Island, New York, 43 year-old Thomas Keating was killed crossing the street in front of the Soundview restaurant. Although there is a crosswalk, the crossing is dangerous because of the high traffic speeds, according to the owner of Soundview restaurant, Rachel Murphy. The restaurant has overflow parking on the other side of the 50 mph road, and Murphy has asked the county government make improvements for pedestrian safety. The county responded by presenting a plan that includes narrowing the roadway and adding a median with a planter to calm traffic. Murphy shares with the Suffolk Times, "We no longer have rural traffic patterns here. It's a tourist zone. Reduce the speed." Town Supervisor Tom Russell agrees that more changes are needed because the crosswalk is not sufficient. There have been a total of 23 accidents of varying types in front of Soundview since 1997.
Complete Streets Presentations
Several recent complete streets events are now available online. Check out video and slides from last week's Complete Streets Symposium in Sacramento, on a range of topics, from health benefits to green infrastructure. Audio and visuals are available from last month's webinar on Context Sensitive Solutions and Complete Streets, which was presented by ContextSensitiveSolutions.org and the Federal Highway Administration.
Access Board APS Guidance
The Board released new guidance on installing low-volume audible signals and tactile features to enhance pedestrian accessibility, Common Problems Arising in the Installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals. The new guidance reviews various features of available products, using case studies and field evaluations to illustrate various best practices in relation to common site conditions and factors. The publication includes an installation checklist and other resources. (via CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking)
Report: The Urgency of a New Federal Urban Policy
In a blog post on President Obama's urban affairs summit, US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood backed a call for the Office of Urban Affairs to review federal infrastructure and transportation policies. He links to a new report released by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, No Economic Recovery Without Cities: The Urgency of a New Federal Urban Policy (.pdf). The report offers a number of policy principles to guide the federal Office of Urban Affairs on strengthening our urban cores. One of the key transportation recommendations is the promotion of 'transportation alternatives' through support of S584/HR 1443, the Complete Streets Act of 2009.
Study: Smart Growth and Improved Transportation Choices Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A new study from the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) (.pdf) concludes that a comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices can significantly reduce transportation emissions and save Americans money. Reducing Americans' Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) by 10% per capita from the 2005 levels through programs like additional non-motorized transportation infrastructure and improved access to public transportation - both components of complete streets - will result in an annual reduction of 145 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2030, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 30 million cars or 35 large coal plants.
Report: Spending the Stimulus at 120 Days
Smart Growth America, in conjunction with state coalition partners, released a report on the 120-day mark of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (.pdf) detailing how well each state is handling its transportation stimulus money. While some states proved excellent at investing wisely and making progress toward a 21st Century transportation system, most states failed to fulfill pressing transportation needs. Nearly one-third of the money, $6.6 billion, went towards building new road capacity. Only 0.9% was spent on public transportation, and 2.8% percent on non-motorized projects. Read more on Smart Growth Around America.
Call for Best Practices in Context Sensitive Solutions
Federal Highway Administration and the Center for Transportation and the Environment at North Carolina State University are partnering in a project to initiate a national dialog about Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). The dialog is currently seeking submissions of best practices in the application of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) principles to transportation projects, programs, and plans. Selected case studies will be presented at a series of one-day workshops. Submissions are welcome from transportation agencies, planning agencies, communities and other organizations and will be accepted through July 31.
"If you design streets for traffic, you get traffic, but if you design streets for people, you get people." - Cincinnati City Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls, in CityBeat
"It's a tremendous asset having the train station in the town. Improvements [around the station] can significantly add to the values of properties in this community if they are upgraded, look safe, and look inviting." - Lyndhurst, NJ Mayor Richard DiLascio in NorthJersey.com