Momentum Continues in the States

There’s no doubt that federal policy is important. A Complete Streets provision in the federal transportation bill is essential to ensuring all levels of government can invest in creating safe, multi-modal networks.

While the fight for a more thorough understanding of the ways Americans get around continues on Capitol Hill, action at the state level demonstrates the desire for a Complete Streets approach — and an on-going need to ensure that desire becomes reality on our communities’ streets.

In West Virginia, Delegate Nancy Guthrie has introduced a Complete Streets bill that has found backing from the AARP West Virginia state office.

Senate Bill 2131 (.pdf), introduced by Rhode Island State Senators DiPalma, Pichardo, and Tassoni, has passed out of the Senate Housing and Municipal Government committee. Representing over 130,000 Rhode Islanders, the state chapter of AARP has joined with the Coalition for Transportation Choices to advocate in favor of the bill. In her testimony, Associate State Director Deanna Casey points out, “Making it easier for older people to get around is an obvious reason we’re involved, but Complete Streets design promotes public safety, helps revive our towns and cities and increases property values.”

Of course, passing a state law is only the first step in ensuring a Complete Streets approach is taken.

New York State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, sponsor of last year’s Complete Streets measure, made sure to let everyone know that the law was officially in effect as of Saturday, February 11.

Michigan‘s Complete Streets Advisory Council released its 2011 annual report (.pdf) detailing progress made since the Complete Streets law’s passage in 2010. The 18-member group offers sample language from Complete Streets policies on the books across the country that could be used by the State Transportation Commission as it develops a Complete Streets policy for the Department of Transportation. The Transportation Commission is required to develop that policy by August 2012.

Successes from the last 3 years, and strategies to ensure the routine incorporation of all users, can be found in the Connecticut Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board’s 2011 annual report (.pdf). The Board, established with the state’s Complete Streets law, makes sixteen detailed recommendations to better serve residents and visitors on foot, bike, and transit. Their recommendations include rewriting the state’s Highway Design Manual, developing processes and checklists to ensure Complete Streets compliance, offering training on the concept, and aligning state funding programs to support the development of a statewide multi-modal transportation network.

The work done by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to implement Complete Streets is detailed in its most recent report to the state legislature. Collaborating with more than 30 individuals, representing more than 20 organizations, on the Complete Streets External Advisory Group, MnDOT has been able to address Complete Streets challenges and opportunities in a number of ways, covering activities from supporting Complete Streets policy adoption to determining the minutiae of Complete Streets performance measures at the state level.

And, in Massachusetts, it’s full steam ahead for a series of Complete Streets trainings aimed at state Department of Transportation workers, transportation staff from municipalities, and planners and engineers hired as consultants. Offering educational opportunities is one of our four key steps to ensuring successful implementation of a Complete Streets policy.

Advocates are still working to get a state policy adopted in Indiana, and the state Department of Health is on board. A new five-minute video introduces the Complete Streets concept and its benefits, while also highlighting some on-the-ground examples from the state.

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