Guest post by Jonah Finkelstein, EIT Spack Consulting
Complete Street Policies are being discussed at almost every level of local agencies for big and small cities alike. The National Complete Streets Coalition, is a program of Smart Growth America, a national organization at the forefront of complete street discussions and helping communities implement best practices across the nation.
Recently, they released a webinar titled, The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015, presenting the 16 best Complete Street policies of 2015. The webinar covered the basic history of complete streets in the United States and the progress made in the national level in 2015, along with a brief summary of each award recipient’s policies.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from the presentation.
- Complete Streets Policies on the Rise. Since the National Complete Streets Coalition started in 2005, the number of complete street policies have grown exponentially from 32 policies in 2005 to 899 policies in 2015.
*Smart Growth America & The National Complete Streets Coalition. (2015). The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015 [Webinar], Chart from http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/best-cs-policies-of-2015.pdf
- Success Requires Policy Changes. Almost half of Complete Street policies passed between 1971 – 2015 are in the form of resolutions, which means they are non-binding statements that express a commitment to complete streets. In 2015 this trend was the same, with 40% of new policies in the form of resolutions, however, 26% of policies were adopted by an elected board, which shows that cities and communities are noticing the importance of creating Complete Street communities.
- Smaller Cities Are Early Adopters. From 1971 – 2015, 36% of small suburban cities with populations under 30,000 people created complete street policies, compared to only 6.5% of large cities with populations over 250,000 people for the same time period. This is most likely due to the difficulty of implementation and construction of Complete Streets in large cities, which are more densely populated, and usually vehicle centric.
- FAST Act Helping to Drive Complete Streets. Much progress has been made with Complete Streets on the national level, with the passing of Complete Street language in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The wording helps ensure that newly designed national roadways offer better transportation for all users. However, focus still needs to be placed on the implementation and evaluation of Complete Streets in order to achieve meaningful and measurable goals.
- Politics Impacts Complete Street Implementation. Complete Streets is turning into a bipartisan issue due to the issues with governmental funding. The National Complete Streets Coalition is trying to prevent this from happening by focusing on safety issues and the benefits Complete Streets brings with regards to safety.
While the beginning of the webinar provided interesting insights into Complete Street policies as a whole, the webinar didn’t leave enough time to provide meaningful insights into the 16 cities identified as having the best policies. If you are interested in learning more about the top 16 cities (Reading, Pennsylvania scored at the top of the list), click the link to download the Best Complete Street Policies of 2015 report.
With almost 900 Complete Street policies in place in the United States, and exponentially more being added each year, big strides are being made to promote Complete Streets and ease-of-use for all transportation network users. A long road is still ahead, however with improved policies in the local and national level Complete Streets will slowly become a standard of the American transportation system.
Do you have a great Complete Streets resource you frequently reference? We would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.