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.
- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Meets with Coalition, Endorses Complete Streets Approach
- Colorado Department of Transportation
- Lee County, FL
- Daphne, AL
- Ada County, ID
- Roswell, GA
- Quick Takes: Policy Progress
- Federal Policy Update
- Pedestrian Safety Report Highlights the Need for Complete Streets
- Complete Streets Workshops
- Safe Routes to School State Network Project
- Accessible Transportation Webinars
- Incomplete Streets Death
- Denver Debate
- Pedestrian Safety Goes Beyond Jaywalking
- Quick Takes: Complete Streets Talk Across the Country
- New and updated fact sheets
- Dangerous by Design
- Sprawl Delays Ambulance Response
- Successful Lane Removal on Burrard Bridge
- Bicycle Infrastructure Improves Safety
- More Links Between Health and Walking, Bicycling
COMPLETE STREETS POLICY PROGRESS
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Meets with Coalition, Endorses Complete Streets Approach
Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, James Corless, Campaign Director for Transportation for America, and representatives of several partner organizations met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday, November 16th, where we delivered signatures from thousands of Americans who believe complete streets must be a priority for creating safer streets. In his blog post after the meeting, Secretary LaHood said "It turns out that a complete streets approach offers the perfect intersection of my twin guideposts: safety and livable communities." He directed that his new safety council explore Complete Streets. Senior DOT officials held a follow up meeting with Complete Streets Coalition staff two days later to discuss next steps. Secretary LaHood also urged Complete Streets supporters to take part in upcoming listening sessions to help the Department convey to Congress what needs to be included in the next transportation authorization.
Colorado Department of Transportation
The Colorado Transportation Commission unanimously issued a Bicycle and Pedestrian policy directive (.pdf) on October 15 committing the Department of Transportation to routinely providing for pedestrians and bicyclists in planning, design, and operation of transportation facilities. The policy, though not a comprehensive complete streets policy, is a major step forward for the Colorado DOT and the result of several years' work, including advocacy and stakeholder meetings. An upcoming procedural directive will guide implementation of the policy. Division of Transportation Development Director Jennifer Finch stated, "This is a change in philosophy for the Department [of Transportation]."
Lee County, FL
Lee County, FL has had a complete streets resolution on the table for a few months, but last week's Dangerous by Design report has helped push them into action. Last Tuesday, the Lee County commissioners unanimously approved a complete streets resolution citing not only the safety imperative, but also the need for active living and reduced emissions. Commissioner Brian Bigelow was moved by testimony from community members, including one who was hit by car with bicycling. "She is a victim of what's really wrong with the way we've been kind of singularly focused on accommodating automobiles in our county. It's been quite literally to the exclusion of other alternative modes of transportation." The News-Press ran an editorial and op-ed in favor of the policy decision. Read more about Lee County's swift action in our blog and get the local perspective from advocates BikeWalkLee via Transportation for America.
On Monday, November 2, Daphne become the second city in Alabama to adopt a complete streets resolution, stating the City Council's support for the construction of streets that enable safe access for all users. Daphne's resolution came on the heels of a similar resolution in Fairhope. The National Center for Bicycling and Walking visited the Mobile area and helped spur the move as part of a pilot program to improve health and fight childhood obesity by changing the built environment.
Ada County, ID
We just found out about it, but back in May, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) Board of Commissioners adopted a complete streets policy (.pdf). The new policy aims to balance the needs of all users along and across all County roads, with specific directives for both urban and more rural areas. ACHD will also coordinate with transit agencies to ensure that planned transit services and facilities are accommodated within the street network. Ada County is the most populous county in the state and the first to adopt a policy.
In March, the City of Roswell adopted a complete streets policy (.pdf) to "empower and direct" citizens and decision makers to use a complete streets approach in design and construction of all future roadway projects. Projects will accommodate all users, regardless of age or ability, and "fit within the context of the community." The policy is linked to a recent Atlanta Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Walkways Plan, which encourages complete streets as integral to the region's transportation system.
Quick Takes: Policy Progress
- Madison, WI: Madison, long known for its investment bicycle travel, is in the midst of approving a resolution "reaffirming" its commitment to provide complete streets for all users. City agencies would be directed to follow complete streets principles in new developments, redevelopments, new street construction and reconstruction.
- Tacoma, WA: Final drafts of the city's Complete Streets Design Guidelines went before the City Council Study Session on November 10. The Design Guidelines are a comprehensive, citywide approach that will safely accommodate all users and contain cost-effective tools and implementation steps. The City Council adopted a resolution endorsing the Guidelines on November 17.
Federal Policy Update
Congress once again postponed reauthorization of the transportation bill by passing a continuing resolution, which will extend the funding for current programs through December 18th. With the current speculation over a second stimulus bill or short-term transportation bill, the timing of a full reauthorization is still up in the air. In the meantime, we continue to build support for the Complete Streets Act of 2009 so that when the House and Senate focus once again on the transportation authorization they will know that complete streets must be included. Representatives Napolitano [CA-38], Walz [MN-1], and Tsongas [MA-5] recently co-sponsored the House bill (H.R. 1443), bringing our co-sponsorship to a total of 41 Members of the House. Senator Klobuchar [MN], of the important Environment and Public Works committee, signed on as a co-sponsor of the Senate bill (S. 584), as did Senators Ben Cardin [MD] and Dick Durbin [IL]. We are working closely with the staff of our original sponsors, Rep. Doris Matsui and Sen. Tom Harkin, to build support for the legislation. Help us keep up the momentum by telling your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the Complete Streets Act of 2009!
The Obama Administration isn't letting the delay in transportation reauthorization prevent them from doing more to encourage walking, biking, and taking public transportation. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) just issued a "Proposed Policy Statement on the Eligibility of Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements under Federal Transit Law." The statement makes the case for investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure around transit stops and stations in order to increase ridership and improve livability. Importantly, it clarifies the use of transit funds for these types of projects: the new policy would make all pedestrian improvements with 1/2 mile and all bicycle improvements within 3 miles of a stop or station eligible for funds from several transit programs. In explaining support for these types of projects, FTA quoted Secretary LaHood's summer testimony that mentioned complete streets.
Federal Highway Administration has also posted program guidance on their website to clarify that Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program funds can be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs. The League of American Bicyclists discusses how CMAQ funds can be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects in your community in a timely new report.
Pedestrian Safety Report Highlights the Need for Complete Streets
Our meeting with Secretary LaHood rode a wave of media attention for the new Transportation for America report ranking pedestrian safety in major metro areas, Dangerous by Design, which calls for Complete Streets as a primary solution to an epidemic of pedestrian deaths. NPR's Morning Edition aired a piece on the hostility of suburban roadways, including interviews with Executive Director Barbara McCann and a transit rider who regularly risks injury (or worse) dashing across six lanes of traffic to her bus stop. The Christian Science Monitor also picked up on the report's release, discussing it from several angles: safety, public health, and providing for our aging population. See our blog post for more details on the report.
Meanwhile, Coalition partners the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking issued a new report (.pdf) documenting that the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds received by the states often go completely unused, and that even among funds that are spent, an extremely small portion go to bicycle and pedestrian safety projects. While safety is arguably one of the largest challenges to walking, bicycling and transit access, safety funds only make up 0.33% of all federal money spent on non-motorized transportation.
Complete Streets Workshops
A recent Laying the Foundation for Complete Streets workshop for the Dayton, OH region brought in representatives from 30 local governments, interest groups, and businesses to discuss how complete streets can benefit the region. Workshop instructor Michael Ronkin felt the area was ripe for reinvention, focusing on bringing people into the city. The discussions appear to have changed a few minds, and garnered some media attention. Want to bring complete streets to your region? Check out our workshop page for more information!
Safe Routes to School State Network Project
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is soliciting applications from states that would like to participate in the Safe Routes to School State Network Project during 2010 and 2011. Approximately 15 to 20 states will be selected to build or enhance State Networks that will focus on statewide implementation of the Safe Routes to School program, as well as statewide policy changes that will support more walking and bicycling to schools, such as complete streets, school siting, joint-use and wellness policies. Applications are due November 20, 2009 by 5 p.m.
Accessible Transportation Webinars
On December 8, the Institute of Transportation Engineers is offering the first of a series of interactive web briefings with the U.S. Access Board. The first session will focus on Accessible Pedestrian Signals.
Easter Seals Project ACTION is hosting a webinar on December 9 on Promising Practices and Solutions in Accessible Transportation. Penny Everline of Easter Seals Project ACTION will discuss the Getting There Together curriculum to kick off community activities to support accessible sustainable transportation - including transit and accessible ways to transit. Charles Zeeger, Director of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, will share resources and training relevant to pedestrian access and connectivity to transit.
COMPLETE STREETS NEWS
Incomplete Streets Death
The Dangerous by Design report inspired the Asheville Citizen-Times to take a closer look at a pedestrian fatality that would normally be reported as an unavoidable tragedy. Four year-old Edward Jamal Chalk was struck by a car on October 11 in Asheville, NC when he escaped his mother's hold along a busy arterial street. He regularly accompanied his mother on her journey to work, where they had to cross Hendersonville Road to reach their bus stop. While the newspaper article noted the driver was traveling the speed limit and was not charged, most of the story focused on the lack of safe infrastructure. The road has five, busy lanes traveling at 45 mph; businesses line one side and residences and wooded areas on the other. There are no traffic lights or crosswalks to help pedestrians like Chalk and his mother reach the bus stop, no signs to warn drivers, and no sidewalks in the area. For the pedestrian safety report we compiled a painful chronicle (.pdf) of all of the incomplete streets deaths we've been marking for the last year.
Vincent Carroll opines that Denver's Living Streets Initiative - an inter-departmental citywide initiative to re-envision the city's streets as vibrant, complete streets - is a "dead end" for the city. Despite the many benefits of a multimodal transportation network that provides choices while also helping to improve health, the environment, and the economy, Carroll argues that any road space taken from cars for use by other modes will increase congestion and compromise "personal mobility." While he cites the Texas Transportation Institute's 2009 Urban Mobility Report as proof of the need for more automobile travel lanes, the Urban Mobility Report recommends a "balanced and diversified approach" and that "there must be a broader set of solutions applied to the problem" of congestion, including smart growth, increased investment in public transportation, and multimodal options.
Pedestrian Safety Goes Beyond Jaywalking
Tom Vanderbilt, author of the bestseller Traffic, tackled jaywalking in a recent Slate column, skewering columinists for reducing the complexity of traffic safety by blaming wayward walkers. Citing a Mean Streets report that found that many of the most dangerous places for pedestrians were in Florida, he asks, "are the people of Florida overwhelmingly predisposed to careless pedestrianism? Of course not." Vanderbilt argues simply cracking down on dangerous pedestrians is not effective. Instead, we must spend money to improve pedestrian safety, provide good places to walk, and follow "pedestrian-friendly engineering."
Quick Takes: Complete Streets Talk Across the Country
- Hartford, CT: After losing her job, Jacqueline McQueeney wrote to the Hartford Courant, she was able to spend more time riding her bike on nearby trails. However, she lamented, there weren't options for riding her bike to the store, library, or doctor's office. A few days later, MaryEllen Thibodeau helpfully pointed out that the state's recent complete streets law will help make streets better for all users, so McQueeney and other residents could indeed bike to their daily destinations.
- Hawaii: Though lawmakers have taken steps to improve the situation for the islands' growing population of older adults, including a complete streets law and one that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, Hawaii leads the nation in fatality rate for older pedestrians. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial board echoed AARP's calls for more research into where and why so many pedestrians are killed
- Baltimore, MD: Two representatives from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy opined in the Baltimore Sun on the need to integrate transportation policy with health and safety, specifically through complete streets policies.
- Montgomery County, MD: Though the County has taken strides to make its roadways more complete, it is just beginning to make safe travel through its many expansive parking lots a priority. (Washington Post)
- Ferguson, MO: The St. Louis American profiled Councilman Dwayne James who was accidentally inspired by an environmental conference to push for a more livable Ferguson, including the city's complete streets policy adopted last November.
- Philadelphia, PA: Rina Cutler, Philadelphia's Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities, and advocates from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia discuss the City's efforts to be balance the needs of all users in its transportation projects. (WHYY Radio Times)
- Albany, NY: Responding to the city's draft bicycle master plan, the New York Bicycling Coalition's Jennifer Clunie pushed for a citywide complete streets policy to not only help implement the plan, but to make streets safer for everyone, regardless of how they travel. (Albany Times Union)
- Harrisburg, PA: Josh Karns of 10,00 Friends of Pennsylvania wrote an op-ed to the Patriot-News asking mayoral candidates to implement a complete streets policy.
New and updated fact sheets
The National Complete Streets Coalition has posted a new fact sheet on Sustainable complete streets. The fact sheet covers the connection between green infrastructure and roadways that are designed for all users. The Coalition has also updated its safety fact sheet with new data and research.
Dangerous by Design
Dangerous by Design, the new report on pedestrian safety from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, finds that 'incomplete' streets are a major culprit in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. More than 40% of pedestrian fatalities in 2007 and 2008 occurred where no crosswalk was available. The report also calls attention to the low levels of investment of federal funds in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure - less than 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars over the last few years.
Sprawl Delays Ambulance Response
A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine finds that urban sprawl is significantly associated with increased EMS response time and a higher probability of delayed ambulance arrival. Recent housing price decline and increased foreclosures in sprawling suburban areas threaten to intensify stress on suburban emergency response systems. Report authors suggest promoting smart growth community design and improved street connectivity.
Successful Lane Removal on Burrard Bridge
In response to increasing numbers of people walking and bicycling across Burrard Bridge, which connects the downtown to the city's west side, the City of Vancouver has transformed an auto-only lane into a bike-only lane on a trial basis. Pedestrians travel in the adjacent sidewalk, while the opposite sidewalk is reserved for bicycle riders heading northbound. The trial is bringing in stunning results: the number of pedestrians and vehicles using the bridge has remained constant, while the summer months brought 25% more bicyclists. A recent survey found the majority of users are supportive of the changes. The success of the trial means the city will not have to spend an extra $30 million CAD to retrofit the bridge for better pedestrian and bicyclist accommodation.
Bicycle Infrastructure Improves Safety
A recent literature review found that using bicycle facilities (on-road routes and marked bike lanes and off-road bike paths) posed lower safety risks than riding on sidewalks or multi-use trails and that major roads are more hazardous to bicyclists and minor roads. Researchers point to these early indications as a basis for providing improved bicycling conditions, though additional research is needed on a greater variety of infrastructure.
More Links Between Health and Walking, Bicycling
A pair of new reports show that investments in bicycling and walking cay pay off with better health: and that adjustments to the federal transportation program can make it easier for regions to invest federal funds in active transportation.
A new research brief by Active Living Research summarizes the growing evidence that investments such as increasing access to public transportation, making streets and sidewalks safer, and developing trails and bike lanes, promote regular physical activity and reduce obesity rates. The brief is a one-stop shop for all of the most recent research.
Another new report titled The Regional Response to Federal Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects, and co-authored by Barbara McCann and UC Davis professor Susan Handy, examines how and to what extent regions across the country have used their federal transportation funding on the type of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure that improves health. The report documents a wide variation in regional spending: Among the 50 largest metropolitan areas, the five top-spending regions invested almost seven times as much per capita as the five lowest spenders. Case studies show that use of federal funds for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is more likely to occur in places with a high degree of regional control over federal funds, full-time bicycle and pedestrian staff , and access to federal air quality funds. The research was funded by Active Living Research and published by UC Davis.
"We need safer roadways. We need roadways designed to account for the needs of everyone who uses them, whether driving, walking, or riding in a wheelchair or on a bicycle..... The great thing about this Complete Streets approach to road planning is that it's actually cheaper to plan for multiple road uses ahead of time than to retrofit roadways after they are built and someone gets injured or killed."
- Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, commenting on his meeting with Transportation for America, National Complete Streets Coalition, AARP, America Bikes, the American Public Health Association, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and Smart Growth America
Sidewalk installation is "an expense that doesn't have to do with transportation. The county does not do sidewalks; it's not what gets cars from point A to point B."
- Mark Seegers, spokesman for Harris County, TX Commissioner Slyvia Garcia, in a Houston Chronicle article on the Dangerous by Design report
"Transportation is, pure and simple, about moving people to the places that we want to go, and even in car-obsessed Houston, that's not solely a matter of cars and roads. Even the most dedicated driver walks sometimes - if only from the garage to the office… Walking is transportation. And it's time that our transportation planners gave it - and us - the respect that pedestrians deserve."
- Houston Chronicle Editorial Board