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Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015

Posted by Content Coordinator on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

SMART GROWTH AMERICA
NATIONAL COMPLETE STREETS COALITION

Executive Summary

Figure 1: Number of Complete Streets policies nationwide, 2005–2015The U.S. Surgeon General and Secretary of Transportation both spoke out for more Complete Streets last year. Congress passed a transportation bill that included Complete Streets language for the first time ever. And the City of Reading, PA adopted the first policy to ever score a perfect 100 in our analysis. Together, these all helped set a new high water mark for the national movement for safer streets across the country.

A Complete Streets approach creates an integrated transportation system that supports safe travel for people of all ages and abilities. This approach redefines what a transportation network looks like, which goals a public agency sets out to meet, and how communities prioritize their transportation spending. A Complete Streets policy is one of the best ways to set this approach into motion.

In 2015, communities passed a total of 82 Complete Streets policies. These laws, resolutions, agency policies, and planning and design documents establish a process for selecting, funding, planning, designing, and building transportation projects that allow safe access for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income or ethnicity, and no matter how they travel.

Nationwide, a total of 899 Complete Streets policies are now in place, in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Thirty-two state governments or agencies, 76 regional organizations, and 663 individual municipalities have all adopted such policies to create safer, multimodal transportation networks.

Each year, the National Complete Streets Coalition analyzes newly passed Complete Streets policies. The Coalition examines and scores policy language using the guidelines laid out in our ideal policy elements. Ideal policies state a community’s vision for transportation, provide for many types of users, complement community needs, and establish a flexible project delivery approach. Different types of policy statements are included in the Coalition’s review, including legislation, resolutions, executive orders, internal policies, and policies adopted by an elected board.

The Coalition ranks new Complete Streets policies to celebrate the people who developed exceptional policy language and to provide leaders at all levels of government with examples of strong Complete Streets policies.

Sixteen agencies led the nation in creating and adopting comprehensive Complete Streets policies in 2015:

1. Reading, PA
2. West Hartford, CT
3. Park Forest, IL; South Bend, IN; Longmeadow, MA
4. Weymouth, MA
5. Omaha, NE
6. Vincennes, IN
7. Ashland, MA; Natick, MA; Norwell, MA
8. Little Rock, AR
9. Framingham, MA; Lynn, MA ;Portage, MI
10. Battle Ground, WA

We congratulate these communities for their work making streets safer, healthier, and more economically vibrant, and for showing other communities across the country just how strong and effective Complete Streets policies can be.

FIGURE 5: Complete Streets policies passed in 2015

Introduction

A call to action on the United States’ obesity epidemic, a challenge on safety from a federal cabinet secretary, new standards for transportation in Congress, and the first-ever perfect-scoring policy all made 2015 a banner year for the national movement for Complete Streets.

A Complete Streets approach integrates the needs of people and place in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks. In doing so, streets become safer for people of all ages and abilities and better support overall public and economic health. Complete Streets redefines what a transportation network looks like, which goals a transportation agency is going to meet, and how a community prioritizes its transportation spending. The Complete Streets approach breaks down the traditional separation between planning and designing for driving, transit, walking, and bicycling.

The movement gained new momentum in 2015. In January, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation challenged the nation’s mayors to advance safety and accessibility goals in part by using a Complete Streets approach. In September, the U.S. Surgeon General called on communities to help Americans make physical activity a bigger part of their daily routines, in part by using a Complete Streets approach. And for the first time ever, in December, Congress passed a federal transportation bill (the FAST Act) that included Complete Streets language, making this approach to the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks a formal part of federal policy.

It wasn’t just federal agencies taking action. More local communities took action for Complete Streets in 2015, as well. In 2015, 77 jurisdictions adopted a total of 82 Complete Streets policies. 2 Of those, 73 are eligible for this year’s rankings.3 Nationwide, a total of 899 Complete Streets policies are now in place, in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia (see Appendix B starting on page 23 for the full list). Thirty-two state governments or agencies, 76 regional organizations, and 663 individual municipalities have all adopted such policies to create safer, multimodal transportation networks.

Each year the National Complete Streets Coalition ranks new Complete Streets policies to celebrate the people who developed exceptional policy language and to provide leaders at all levels of government with examples of strong Complete Streets policies. This year the Coalition is proud to award the City of Reading, PA’s 2015 policy the first-ever score of 100 points. We want to congratulate Reading in particular for their outstanding work. Notably, and key for a perfect score like this, the policy goes beyond a vision for Complete Streets to clearly commit to building an integrated, context-sensitive transportation network.

Complete Streets efforts are almost always are the fruit of diverse alliances among advocates for older adults and public health, transportation practitioners, bicycling and walking proponents, and many others. The policies passed this year and the momentum at the national level reflects this diversity.

Download full version (PDF): Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015

About Smart Growth America
www.smartgrowthamerica.org
Smart Growth America advocates for people who want to live and work in great neighborhoods. We believe smart growth solutions support thriving businesses and jobs, provide more options for how people get around and make it more affordable to live near work and the grocery store. Our coalition works with communities to fight sprawl and save money. We are making America’s neighborhoods great together.

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