The best policies of 2012 and a bold step forward in Chicago: Complete Streets News, April 2013

Policy Adoption

Announcing the best Complete Streets policies of 2012 — In a report out last week, the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, examined all the Complete Streets policies passed in the last year and highlighted some of the best. Leading the pack is Indianapolis, which adopted a Complete Streets ordinance in August. “We’re very proud of our efforts in the past few years to make Indianapolis more walkable, bikeable and connected. The strength of our Complete Streets plan is its clear commitment to achieving a vibrant, healthy city,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “Now, we’re working to make our plan a reality with safe and accessible transportation options for all residents.” Read more >>

West Virginia One Step from Complete Streets Law — On March 26, the West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a Complete Streets bill, Senate Bill 158. The House of Delegates gave their approval on April 10, with 92 voting in favor and only 7 against. The bill encourages the West Virginia Division of Highways to adopt a Complete Streets approach in future transportation projects, improving safety for all road users and providing options for residents. The bill awaits signature from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Read more >>

The Manatee County, Florida Board of County Commissioners adopted a Complete Streets ordinance on April 4, 2013. The ordinance, effective on May 5 of this year, amends the County’s Comprehensive Plan to follow a Complete Streets approach in transportation projects, establish related performance measures, and revise the Land Development Code. Read more >>

Policy Action

Chicago Adopts Bold Complete Streets Guidelines — On April 13, the Chicago Department of Transportation took another big step toward true implementation of Complete Streets by adopting a bold guiding document for all of its future projects. Complete Streets Chicago: Design Guidelines clearly establish a modal priority that favors the safety and comfort of people traveling on foot throughout the city, one of the first in the nation to do so in such a clearly articulated way. The Guidelines incorporate best practices from the around the world and allow project planners and designers great flexibility in their work to ensure the city’s streets compliment neighborhood needs. “It’s about really understanding how you layer safety and placemaking and supporting economic development into this process of designing your roadway,” noted Janet Attarian, the CDOT’s Complete Streets project director. The city’s Complete Streets policy, dating from 2006, is now fully part of everyday design decisions and has helped CDOT reorganize internal structures to better create safe multi-modal streets that serve the city’s residents and businesses.

Lee County, Florida‘s Board of County Commissioners heard about progress implementing Complete Streets recently, the third of such annual reports required by the County’s Complete Streets policy. The report includes information on how staff modified the planning and budgeting process to consider Complete Streets needs and steps to update the Land Development Code and performance measures.

Though the designs were final, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) reconsidered its design for Northridge Road bridge to comply with the Complete Streets policy the agency adopted last fall. GDOT worked with local leaders and advocacy groups to include bike lanes on this once-in-a-generation reconstruction project, ensuring the construction of a critical connector for bicyclists in the area and a build-out of a Complete Streets network. Advocates recently held a rally in support of Complete Streets implementation at the state capitol, thanking GDOT for its work so far and urging them to continue making progress.

Michigan is putting its state Complete Streets policy into action in a big way on a planned reconstruction of 27 miles of Woodward Avenue in the Detroit region. A series of public meetings and events will inform the project’s master plan and provide for people taking public transit, walking, and bicycling — and local economies.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi is following its 2011 Complete Streets policy in the reconstruction of Hardy Street. In addition to improving vehicular access, the project will include new sidewalks. “The whole idea behind complete streets is that it’s not only cars that you’re servicing but you’re also servicing other modes of transportation,” said City Engineer Bert Kurykendall. (WHLT 22)

Glen Ridge, New Jersey is taking swift steps to implement its Complete Streets policy by taking a look at ways to improve safety along Bloomfield Avenue. Endorsed by the editorial board of the Glen Ridge Voice, the city is working with neighboring jurisdiction to ensure that the many who travel along the corridor, especially children and people with disabilities, are able to do so safely and comfortably.

North Harrison Street in Arlington County, Virginia will soon be more complete and safer for all travelers. During a resurfacing project, County staff will restripe the street to improve crosswalks, add bicycle lanes, and reduce congestion through creation of a center turning lane.

Seattle is aligning its land use planning and transportation projects in the city’s Central District neighborhood. While the Department of Transportation meets with the public to establish a new vision and Complete Streets approach to a major project on 23rd Avenue, the city’s Department of Planning and Development is engaging with community stakeholders to create development guidelines that would support local businesses and ensure the availability of affordable housing, among other topics. (Central District News)

Coalition News

Complete Streets at the National Planning Conference — Planners were buzzing about Complete Streets during the 2013 American Planning Association (APA) national conference in Chicago earlier this week! The National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a Partners breakfast at APA Headquarters on Tuesday and Deputy Director Stefanie Seskin participated in a panel presentation on making the case for Complete Streets investments. Practitioners highlighted their Complete Streets work throughout the five-day conference: Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Blue Island, Illinois, touted their Complete Streets Policy Analysis rankings; San Francisco used data to prioritize pedestrian needs; and Shaker Heights, Ohio, improved neighborhood connections for residents to safely walk to transit stops. Stayed tuned for a full recap on our blog next week!

Public Transportation a Popular Option for Many — The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), a Steering Committee member, announced that Americans took 10.5 billion trips on public transit in 2012. This staggering figure represents the second highest ridership level since 1957. Public transit ridership grew across the country, in cities large and small: “There is a sea change going on in the way that people look at transportation. Americans want travel choices; they want to be able to choose the best travel option for their lives,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Call to Action on Walking — Coalition Steering Committee member America Walks encourages Complete Streets supporters to sign a petition regarding the Surgeon General’s proposed call to action on walking. Supporters can leave comments on ways to encourage Americans to be more active.

On the Road with Complete Streets Workshops — April is a busy month for our Workshop Instructors corps! Tonight, Paul Zykofsky, AICP will leading a public meeting about Complete Streets in Houston, Texas. Invited stakeholders will participate in a full-day workshop with Zykofsky and co-instructor Michael Dannemiller, PE tomorrow. Both events are part of “Complete Streets Week“, organized by the Houston Complete Streets Coalition. Next Wednesday, Michael Ronkin and Barbara McCann will host a public meeting on Complete Streets in Virginia Beach, Virginia, followed by an invite-only full-day workshop for local decision-makers and stakeholders. We’ll be in Cuyahoga County, Ohio on May 1 and 2, where Roger Henderson, AICP, PE, PTP, PTOE, will lead a Wednesday evening meeting open to the public. Tom von Schrader, P.E., LEED AP will join him on Thursday for an invite-only workshop for County and suburban stakeholders. Want to have our team help your community acheive its Complete Streeets goals? Check out our website, where you’ll find information about the different types of workshops available and who to contact for additional details.

Thank You Renewing Partners! — Many thanks to the Partners who renewed their support to the Coalition at a higher level this month: Vanesse, Hangen, Brustlin, Inc. at the Gold level and Freese and Nichols, Inc. at the Silver level. The Coalition also appreciates the continued support of Sam Schwartz Engineering as a Silver Partner and Kittelson & Associates as a Bronze Partner! Support the Coalition’s work by becoming a Partner today.

Complete Streets News

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill is demanding non-motorized performance measures be part of the implementation of the latest federal transportation bill, MAP-21. While total roadway fatalities decreased between 2008 and 2011, the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rose. Better performance measures can states better design and build transportation projects to prevent the roughly 5,000 people killed annually while walking and biking. (WAMU)

Russellville, Arkansas is applying a Complete Streets approach to two upcoming transportation projects, resulting in consistent facilities for all users along the corridors and incorporating some special streetscape elements. The projects will be completed next summer. (Russellville Courier)

Major reconstruction plans for Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles are moving ahead — and with a Complete Streets approach that reflects the city’s move toward safer streets that welcome people walking, bicycling, and taking transit as much as those driving automobiles. The project is on track to be built by the end of 2014. (Southern California Public Radio)

Middletown, Connecticut‘s Economic Development Committee gave its approval to a draft Complete Streets Master Plan, which sets a common vision for the community, the benefits of a Complete Strets approach, and outlines priority corridors for multi-modal improvements. The 56-page plan will next go to Common Council for adoption. (Middletown Press)

Complete Streets leaders from across Florida and spoke at the Southeast Regional Bicycle Safety Summit in Tampa on April 11, discussing how Complete Streets implementation is improving safety in the county. Lee County Sustainability Director Tessa LeSage, Billy Hattaway, Florida’s District 1 Transportation Secretary, and Ian Lockwood of AECOM Glatting Jackson were among those invited to speak at the first of the U.S. Department of Transportation‘s regional Safety Summits focused on bicycling safety in diverse communities. The next summit will be in Minneapolis on April 29. Read more on the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s blog.

A Better Blocks demonstration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is one of the first steps in engaging the broader community in a conversation about its streets and how they can better serve residents walking or bicycling and local businesses. (The Daily Reveille)

A draft “Complete Streets and Livability Plan” for downtown Deerfield, Massachusetts was presented to the community last month. Developed by Coalition Silver Partner Nelson\Nygaard, the draft plan reflects community input at meetings late last year. James Heller, a downtown property owner, said “Making it a walkable and bike-friendly town is what people want. People want to live in a place that’s pleasing to look at and right now it isn’t.” An implementation strategy will be developed. (Greenfield Recorder)

A citizen-led task force in Ann Arbor, Michigan is putting forth Complete Streets recommendations for a major gateway to the community. North Main Street lacks many basic facilities for people on foot or bicycle; one 3/4-mile stretch lacks any crosswalks. Doug Allen, a local property owner, points out that residents have done what they can to make the street better but “would enjoy more help from the city in making this a safe, inviting entryway to Ann Arbor.” Final recommendations will be delivered to City Council on July 31. (AnnArbor.com)

Rutherford, New Jersey’s Green Team made suggestions to the City Council regarding a proposed project on Orient Way scheduled for this spring to ensure that the work followed a Complete Streets approach. “I think this is an opportunity for us to make some real safety improvements to a roadway that is so prone to rollovers and accidents,” said Green Team chair John Hughes. (NorthJersey.com)

Residents and officials in Troy, New York discussed the creation of a Complete Streets workgroup that would make the city’s streets safer for people walking, riding bicycles, and with disabilities. The City Council will vote on the creation of that group in May. (The Troy Record)

In Febraury, Nevada State Assemblymen Carrillo and Ohrenschall introduced AB 145, which would fund local Complete Streets initiatives via a voluntary fee on vehicle registrations.

A Complete Streets bill in the Texas House of Representatives, introduced by Representatives Harper-Brown, Keffer, Morrison, Martinez, and Lucio, was heard in committee on April 9. (Bike Texas)

In a press release, the California State Independent Living Council describes the need for transportation decision-makers to be aware of the needs of people with disabilities and how local California groups and residents have been advocating for better street designs and access to public transportation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, six million people with disabilities had difficulties accessing needed transportation.

The League of American Bicyclists featured the accomplishments of Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition, as part of its series of profiles on women leaders in bicycling.

Incomplete Streets Death: Fen ChenFen Chen was killed by a car on Route 18 in East Brunswick, NJ on March 26. Chen, 81, was walking his bicycle across the street when he was hit at approximately 9:00 am. Route 18 is a busy six-lane road that connects residential and shopping areas but lacks sidewalks and crosswalks, making travelling on foot or bicycle exceedingly dangerous.

Resources

Call for Response: Communities with Complete Streets Policies — The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, a federally-funded research center at the University at Buffalo, is conducting a national survey of municipalities having Complete Streets initiatives. The purpose of this online survey is to summarize Complete Streets implementation practices and identify variations in practice across the country so that other municipalities might benefit. If you are the person responsible for implementing CS in your area, please take 15-20 minutes to complete the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/completestreetsurvey by May 31, 2013. This research is funded by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC-UD), through a grant sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Call for Response: Innovative Bicycling Facilities — Do you work on innovative bike projects at the city level? The Green Lane Project wants your input on current design guidance to gather information on up-to-date and responsive design standards. City staff and consultants are encouraged to take this short, confidential survey by April 20 for the chance to win prizes.

Videos: Streetfacts — StreetFilms launched a new “Streetfacts” series on best practices and “bad practices” in transportation planning and policy with two new videos. The first, “Bike Lanes Aren’t Just for Big Cities,” features the many types of cities adding bike lanes to their roadways: “bike-friendly streets make for happy, healthy residents” the video notes. In the second, “Americans are Driving Less,” shares trends demonstrating the need for Complete Streets: Americans have been driving less and less since 2005 and looking for alternative forms of transportation.

Research: Transportation, Health, and GHGsNew research featured in the American Journal of Public Health highlights the health co-benefits and transportation related reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Research conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area showed that increased using active transit increased physical activity, improved health, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions. Advocates can use these compelling findings while making the case for Complete Streets.

Report: Livable Community Indicators — The Stanford Center on Longevity and Metlife Mature Market Institute developed a practical indicator system to measure the ability of a community to support older adults who wish to remain in their communities as they age. Complete Streets promote access for users of all ages and allow people to safely age in place.

Report: The Business Case for Public Transportation — Complete Streets give people travel options and help grow the local economy. Steering Committee member American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released “The Business Case for Investment in Public Transportation” citing that when you grow public transit, you grow local economies, jobs, and travel choices.

Report: Real Estate Benefits from Public Transportation — “The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation,” a new report from the National Association of REALTORS (R) and the American Public Transportation Association speaks to one of the many benefits of Complete Streets: stable and rising property values for homes located near public transit. Over a period of five years, researchers looked at five regions across the country and found that transit-adjacent properties outperformed their regions as a whole by over 40%.

Webinar: Working with State and Local Officials — Join America Walks on April 26 for the free webinar, “Leadership at the Top: Working with State and Local Officials to Prioritize Walking into Transportation Planning”. Hear from Tennessee transportation leaders on how they are integrating walkability into transportation planning. Register online >>

Quotes

“We must build and maintain our roads for healthy business districts, vibrant neighborhoods and high quality of life, and measure success through improved safety, mode choices and livability. With complete streets, we are designing for all modes of transportation by looking for ways to improve our health, safety and economy while addressing our changing transportation needs.” — Commissioner Gabe Klein, Chicago

“Having a Complete Streets policy is very useful for me to deal with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. I can point to those things and say this is what Northfield believes. This is the kind of thing Northfield is interested in. If we want to see things done within our community, we need to develop that consensus ahead of time. I think it also puts down on paper that our streets exist for more than moving vehicles down the roadway.”— Joe Stapf, city engineer and public works director, Northfield, Minnesota

“When we have something that looks like a highway, people will drive like it’s a highway. We are legally allowed to walk across that street, so we should be able to get across that street.” — Council member Rodney Wiltshire, Troy, New York

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