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.
- State & Local Policies: Closing in on 100
- Update from Lansing, MI
- Cincinnati City Council Member Motions for Complete Streets Policy
- Federal Policy Update
- CDC Recommends Complete Streets
- Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition Launches
- Upcoming Workshops
- The Associated Press Covers Complete Streets
- Codifying Vitality in Albert Lea, MN
- Build Health Into Community Design
- Charlotte Takes the Train
- Quick Takes: Complete Streets Talk Around the Country
- Incomplete Streets Death
- Report: Growing Smarter, Living Healthier
- Safe Streets and Emergency Response
- Universal Design and Public Transportation
- Report: Moving Cooler
- Report: The Transportation Prescription
- Street Design and Public Space
- Guidebook: Fundamentals of Bicycle Boulevard Planning and Design
- Get Your Bike Stats, Stat!
COMPLETE STREETS POLICY PROGRESS
State & Local Policies: Closing in on 100
As evidenced by the more than 20 policies adopted since January this year, more and more communities are seeing the benefits of complete streets. Just in the last month, we've heard of four new policies adopted - putting us closer than ever to topping 100 jurisdictions with a policy (or two!).
Update from Lansing, MI
- Hennepin County, MN: The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a complete streets policy (.pdf) in mid-July, only a few months after it resolved to develop that policy. The final document stresses the improvements to safety, mobility, accessibility, and convenience for all users on the County's roads made by a strong commitment to complete streets, as well as the need to be flexible and sensitive to the community. As part of the implementation process, the County will assess its current conditions, identifying where improvements can be made. The County Engineer is tasked with documenting any project exempted from the policy and the County Board will hear annual reports on implementation.
- Rockville, MD: Rockville City Council unanimously adopted a complete streets policy (.pdf) on July 27th. Building on a number of existing policies, including the Bicycle Mater Plan and Sidewalk Prioritization Policy, the complete streets framework will tie together other efforts, prioritize projects, and provide design guidance. New construction and re-construction roadway projects in the City shall accommodate users of all ages and abilities including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and adjacent land users, respecting the community's character. All projects will be funded through the Capital Improvement Program, private developers, federal and state grants, and revenue from the City's speed camera program.
- Lee's Summit, MO: On August 6th, the Lee's Summit City Council unanimously approved the Lee's Summit 360 Strategic Plan. The Transportation element of the plan features establishing a complete streets approach to transportation in the City. This will be accomplished through the creation of a Complete Streets Advisory Committee; the passage of a strong, comprehensive complete streets ordinance; improving citizen perception of walking and bicycling safety; increases in the number who choose to walk, bike, or take transit; and more.
- San Antonio/Bexlar County Metropolitan Planning Organization, TX: In March, the MPO's Transportation Policy Board adopted a complete streets resolution (.pdf). The language, drafted in subcommittee, passed easily. The MPO now pledges to use complete streets practices as guiding principles in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the region's transportation network and will include it in existing planning documents and policies. The MPO also encourages other agencies to adopt complete streets policies.
A complete streets ordinance will be heard Thursday night by Lansing's City Council, following a public hearing earlier this week where 60 people testified in favor of the ordinance, City Council members have spoken in favor of the policy and community members spearheaded the movement by collecting over 5000 signatures on a petition calling for improvements to Lansing's non-motorized street network. "This is not a fringe issue," said Jessica Yorko, co-writer of the ordinance. "This isn't a few people in Lycra who have fancy bikes." Residents even created a photo project documenting the state of Lansing's streets in an effort to "demonstrate the need to complete Lansing streets and make them safer for all roadway users - not just automobiles."
Cincinnati City Council Member Motions for Complete Streets Policy
Cincinnati has already made the first baby steps in the direction of away from auto-centric street policies. The City passed a resolution in support of the Complete Streets Act of 2009, and its Sharrows Pilot Project, introduced this May, provides shared lane pavement markings for bikes and cars. But the city made a much bolder step earlier this month when Cincinnati City councilmember Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion for a complete streets policy. Cincinnati's Department of Transportation and Engineering is developing a citywide streets policy, but Qualls also wants it incorporated into Comprehensive Plan, Bicycle Plan, and Form-Based Codes initiatives, all of which are still in developing stages. She hopes to receive a report from the rest of City Council by this fall.
Federal Policy Update
In Washington, August is known for its sweltering temperatures, but the real action is heating up back in your hometown. With Members of Congress back to their districts for August recess, now is a great time to talk to your representative about all the benefits of complete streets. We have all the tools you need on our federal page, including tips for scheduling a meeting, talking points, and information about legislation that will lead to complete streets. Check out our blog for more information and tips!
Before Congress adjourned, both the House and the Senate passed funding that will allow the Federal Highway Trust Fund to continue current transportation programs through the end of September 2009. Beyond September, there is significant disagreement on how to proceed with funding. Chairman Oberstar of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has made it clear he would like to pass a full transportation bill while the Senate is moving forward with an 18 month extension proposed by the White House. While it is unclear how the disagreement will be resolved, a decision will have to be made before the end of September. We'll keep you updated as this plays out.
Several bills recently introduced in Congress recognize the clear benefits that complete streets provide for improving the safety and livability of a community for everyone living there-regardless of age or ability.
Senator Dodd [CT] was joined by Senators Menendez [NJ], Merkley [OR], Bennet [CO] and Akaka [HI] in introducing the Livable Communities Act of 2009 (S. 1619). The bill would fund the development and implementation of regional plans to link transportation, land use, housing and economic development to create prosperous, sustainable communities. The Older Driver and Pedestrian Safety and Roadway Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 3355), introduced by Rep. Altmire (PA-4), would improve design guidelines, data collection, and provide funding for states to make roads safer for older drivers and pedestrians. The legislation acts on recommendations from AARP's recent report, Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America. Read more about both bills on our blog.
CDC Recommends Complete Streets
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is officially recommending complete streets as a strategy in the fight against obesity - and has recommended using our Coalition's standards to assess whether a community is designing and operating its streets to provide safe access to all users. Its influential Morbidity and Mortality weekly report (MMWR) recommends policy strategies for obesity prevention, with one making specifically calling for communities to measure how it they are enhancing traffic safety to promote physical activity. Read our blog for more information on the CDC recommendation, as well as all the other ways the public health community has pointed the way toward complete streets policies as an important tool in the fight against the obesity crisis.
Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition Launches
Fresh Energy, Transit for Livable Communities, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota have collaborated to initiate the Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition. Their work officially began in late July with a kick-off attended by 40 representatives of groups across the state. The Coalition has two goals: a statewide Complete Streets policy in 2010 that includes a concrete implementation process and accountability and ensuring ongoing statewide implementation of Complete Streets designs across all jurisdictions. A new web site will be launched soon, but you can start getting involved through Facebook and Twitter. They have a lot of activities lined up in the coming month.
Minnesota is teeming with complete streets action this month, with two workshops happening in the state as well. The first was at the Minnesota Metropolitan Planning Organization conference this week, where Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, joined by Roger Henderson, discussed complete streets with a crowd of 60. Next week, Michael Ronkin and Dom Nozzi will be in Moorhead to help locals develop their own complete streets policy. Two more states are taking advantage of our informative and interactive workshops next month - Louisiana and Arizona. Want to bring one to your community? Check out our Workshops page for more information.
COMPLETE STREETS NEWS
The Associated Press Covers Complete Streets
As New Mexican bicyclists rally to have the state Department of Transportation consider their safety when constructing and repairing roads, the national need for complete streets draws more attention. The Associated Press this week reported on the growing number of Americans who are going to work, to school, and to the shops by foot, bike, and public transportation and the increased need to provide them with safe traveling conditions.
Codifying Vitality in Albert Lea, MN
AARP and Blue Zone selected Albert Lea as the pilot city for its Vitality Project, which aims to improve health through lifestyle changes. As the project draws to a close, the Albert Lea City Council must choose how lessons learned from the project will affect the community's future. Recommendations include amending the Comprehensive Plan to include a walkability study produced by expert Dan Burden, which advises increased connectivity and changes in sidewalk ordinances. The city's subdivision ordinance may also be altered to require complete streets in new subdivisions, redevelopment and reconstruction areas. First Ward Councilor Vern Rasmussen, who believes that sidewalks build communities, urged residents to look beyond short-term costs into long-term gains. "Change is hard, but this is a change that the community needs, in my opinion, to continue to foster and mature with," he said.
Build Health Into Community Design
A recent commentary on in the Journal of the American Medical Association discusses the use of Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) (subscription required) to examine the health benefits of policy change. When applied to transportation policies and projects, HIAs measure a variety of health impacts, including the impact on obesity and physical activity. They recommend a variety of counter measures, including recommend the complete streets approach, ensuring the built environment will promote public health. HIAs are beginning to gain momentum in the U.S. according to Robin Mockenhaupt, Chief of Staff for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and their increased application will promote a better mix of food sources and more opportunities for physical activity in our communities.
Charlotte Takes the Train
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation are key users of Charlotte's transportation system, supported through good complete streets planning and design by the City's Urban Streets Design Guidelines. Smart Growth News reports that ridership on the 9.6 mile Lynx light-rail, opened in November 2007, line far exceeded expectations. Recording more than 16,000 riders last summer and almost 15,00 daily in June, the line has outperformed its first-year ridership target of 9,100 weekday boardings. Seventy-two percent of riders are new to public transportation. "It shows people that if you build it, they'll ride it," said Charlotte Area Transit System Marketing Manager Olaf Kinard of the long delayed $463-million line.
Quick Takes: Complete Streets Talk Around the Country
Incomplete Streets Death
- Miami, FL: A local blogger speaks out in favor of a new proposed zoning code, known as Miami 21. When implemented in tandem with the City's complete streets resolution, both policies will be more effective in creating a walkable, bikeable - livable - Miami. (via Transit Miami)
- Decatur, GA: Mayor Bill Floyd reflects on the temporary lane reduction along Church St, which s slowed traffic with limited additional congestion. If made permanent, the lane reduction could mean added bicycle lanes and more on-street parking - design ideas expressed in Decatur's Community Transportation Plan.
- Des Moines, IA: Transportation engineers have recommended a key street in Des Moines - Ingersoll Avenue - go on a diet. Reducing the four-lane street into two lanes with a center turn lane will provide room for bike lanes and on-street parking. (via Des Moines KCCI 8)
- Rochester, MN: New bike lanes on the West River Parkway mark the first project to implement Rochester's Complete Streets Policy, adopted earlier this year. The local Post-Bulletin supports the efforts in a recent editorial.
- Portland, OR: The long-awaited update to the City's groundbreaking 1996 Bicycle Master Plan is in its final stages, and will be the topic of a full hearing of the Portland Planning Commission on August 25. The draft Bicycle Master Plan for 2030 will be released to the public next week. (via BikePortland.org)
- Vermont: Local Motion, a group advocating for active transportation, talks about developing complete streets throughout Vermont as a strategy to be the fittest state in the US. (via Burlington Free Press)
Timothy Shawn, 57-year-old resident of Germanton, Maryland, was killed by a car when attempting to cross Clopper Road in Germantown on August 10th. According to the police spokesman, there is no streetlight in the immediate area of the crash, which happened at 8:30 p.m. In addition, the Gazette reports a lack of sidewalks and no crosswalk in the location where it occurred.
Report: Growing Smarting, Living Healthier
Growing Smarter, Living Healthier: A Guide to Smart Growth and Active Aging, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a user-friendly handbook intended to inspire older adults to become involved in how their communities grow and develop to ensure they become more 'age-friendly.' Age-friendly communities use Smart Growth principles (development that improves the community, environment, economy, and public health) to become healthier places to grow old in - and better places for people of all ages. In addition to addressing the basic principles of neighborhood and town design, the guide helps readers understand why community design matters, and how becoming involved in decisions about growth can make better places in which to grow older.
Safe Streets & Emergency Response
In addition to issuing a new Report on Emergency Response & Street Design earlier this month, the Congress for New Urbanism and its fire service partners submitted new amendments to the International Fire Code, up for review by the International Code Council this fall. The new amendments would allow local communities flexibility in building streets that could be potentially used by fire equipment. Recognizing that the minimum street widths are mandated by safety concerns during emergencies, yet impede everyday traffic safety, the amendment would allow context to guide streets' dimensions.
Universal Design and Public Transportation
Easter Seals Project Action has released a new fact sheet focuses on accessibility and the benefits of universal design. "Universal Design & Accessible Transit Systems: Facts to Consider When Updating or Expanding Your Transit System" contains recommendations and guidelines for transit agencies to consider when updating or expanding their systems. The goal of universal design is to make environments, products and systems safer, healthier, and more usable for everyone.
Report: Moving Cooler
Moving Cooler, recently released by the Urban Land Institute and parters, examines strategies to lower greenhouse gases (GHG) in the transportation sector. In its discussion of land use and smart growth strategies, the report examines non-motorized transportation strategies that would increase bicycling and walking through adoption of complete streets policies. Bicycling and walking are included with land use and smart growth strategies as one of the six strategy "bundles" to reduce GHG; this bundle also has the benefits of providing more transportation choices and improving public health.
Report: The Transportation Prescription
PolicyLink and Prevention Institute report that smarter transportation policy could make our communities healthier and more economically vibrant. Promoting public transportation, biking, and walking will dramatically cut down on diseases like asthma, obesity, and diabetes while also giving low-income communities the access they need to jobs, parks, and doctors visits. Their new report, The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America, provides guidance on healthy, equitable transportation policies and presents a collection of policies and programs that can improve health and transportation in underserved communities while simultaneously creating economic opportunities.
Street Design and Public Space
An article titled "Rethinking the Street Space: Why Street Design Matters" from Planetizen nicely summarizes the importance of street design as a public space asset rather than just a place for driving. The article discusses why this approach to street design can be difficult, gives examples of the new trend, and identifies the benefits it brings for local economies, the environment, and physical and psychological health. A handful of useful resources are available on these topics as well as recent design manuals. A follow up article traces the history of street design standards, including the national push for complete streets.
Guidebook: Fundamentals of Bicycle Boulevard Planning and Design
Alta Planning, a Complete Streets Partner has teamed up with the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at Portland State University to create the Fundamentals of Bicycle Boulevard Planning and Design Guidebook. Bicycle boulevards are low-volume and low-speed roads that have been optimized for bicycle travel through signage, pavement markings, intersection treatment, and traffic calming. Motor vehicles access is maintained, though through traffic is discouraged. Data for this guide was developed from literature review, case study interviews, and input from a panel of professional experts.
Get Your Bike Stats, Stat!
Bikes Belong recently launched a new, searchable database of statistics on the benefits of bicycling. Covering topics from economic benefits to safety, the new database also has a quick one-page resource.
"We had the elected leadership who were understanding enough that freeways weren't some sort of magic cure all to all of our problems." - Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org, in discussing why Portland, OR has been wildly successful in building its transportation network accommodate all users, not just motorists. (via the Santa Fe New Mexican)