Complete Streets News — February 2016

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Complete Streets at New Partners for Smart Growth — The National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a networking breakfast last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Portland, OR. More than 30 smart growth advocates gathered to hear about local successes and new opportunities in creative placemaking and Complete Streets from Chris Rall, Pacific Northwest Field Organizer at Transportation for America, and the Coalition’s own Emiko Atherton. Thank you to our sponsor AARP Oregon for making this event possible, and to everyone who joined us for breakfast.

Bartlow, FL hosts Complete Streets workshop — The National Complete Streets Coalition visited Bartlow, FL to conduct an Advanced Complete Streets Design for Professionals workshop with Florida’s Department of Transportation District 1 staff. Through hands-on coaching, the workshop built Complete Streets design expertise among participants and assisted the District 1 design team in incorporating the most current context-sensitive design practices into their roadway project development process moving forward. For more information on Complete Streets workshops, contact Linda Tracy at 406-880-3880.

Fast facts on the FAST Act — The FAST Act is the first federal transportation bill to ever include language on Complete Streets, but how exactly do these provisions help ensure the safety of all users? A new resource from the National Complete Streets Coalition provides an overview of Complete Streets in the FAST Act as well as useful resources for navigating federal funding sources. Download the FAST Act Fact Sheet.

Send us your Complete Streets policies — Has your community passed a new Complete Streets policy? The National Complete Streets Coalition is collecting city, county, regional, and state policies for documentation in our Policy AtlasPolicy Inventory, and our Best Complete Streets reports. For inclusion in these resources, please send a PDF copy of your policy to Mary Eveleigh.

Learn

The Scenic Route: Getting Started with Creative Placemaking and Transportation — America’s cities, towns, and suburbs are rapidly changing and evolving, and transportation investments are playing a catalytic role in transforming communities. But all too often, major transportation projects are disruptive to the surrounding community, and frequently impact or even displace existing residents and businesses. A new guide released today from Transportation for America highlights creative placemaking, a movement that can lead to better projects and build relationships between the public and planners by using arts and culture to more genuinely reflect what makes a community unique.

A closer took: FDOT Complete Streets Implementation Plan — In September 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) adopted a Complete Streets policy to help make streets safer for everyone in the state. Now, a new plan created in partnership with Smart Growth America will help turn that policy into on-the-ground changes. This past December, FDOT released its Complete Streets Implementation Plan, an ambitious and comprehensive commitment to change the way roads are designed and built in Florida to make them safer for all types of travelers, while also promoting economic development and enhancing quality of life. Learn more about the Implementation Plan.

Complete Streets in proposed federal budget — President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 federal budget last week, and it outlines the President’s lofty political ambitions for the coming year. Most notably for smart growth advocates, this proposal would make available nearly $1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years for a new Clean Communities competitive grants program which would “support transit-oriented development, reconnect downtowns, clean up brownfields, implement Complete Streets policies, and pursue other policies that make American cities and towns greener and better places to live.” Read our full analysis.

Improving safety and efficiency with shared space — The idea behind “shared space” street design is that less can be more. By ditching signage, traffic lights, and the grade separation between sidewalk and roadbed, the shared space approach calms traffic and heightens communication between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Instead of following traffic signals on auto-pilot or speeding up to beat the light, motorists have to pay attention to their surroundings. Shared space design has been shown to calm vehicle traffic and allow more freedom of movement for pedestrians with no increase in traffic injuries. A new study from the University of Connecticut finds that in the right conditions shared space also makes intersections more efficient for both pedestrians and motorists.

Walking access matters near transit stations — The last-mile problem refers to challenges that travelers experience in accessing transit stations from their activity locations. A recent study conducted in the Chicago, IL, area examines the contributing factors that reduce people’s propensity to walk and take transit. Data were collected with an online survey composed of questions based on the actual travel experience of the respondents, which was used to estimate a logit choice model. Study findings showed that access time, safety from crime, and sidewalk availability were important factors that influenced people’s choice to walk to transit. In addition to suburban areas that were not well suited for walking to transit, the results identified areas that were well served by transit but had other barriers that inhibited walking access to transit.

New resources about Streets as Places  From their width and character, to the uses of the buildings that line them and the presence or absence of features like benches, crosswalks, outdoor cafés, and awnings, the streets we walk alongside each day are the product of hundreds of decisions and actions, some big and some small, which have taken place over many years. The sheer number of actors involved in shaping a street can be daunting, but also present an opportunity to positively contribute to how our streets look, feel, and function. To help inspire communities to action, the Project for Public Spaces has published innovative efforts that individuals, communities, and governments across the world are undertaking in order to create great streets that work as shared public spaces and play an important role in the social and economic fabric of the areas they serve.

Bicycle sharing and public transit; a relationship explored — Bicycle-sharing programs have emerged around the world. However, the questions of how and to what extent bicycle-sharing programs affect public transit ridership remain to be answered, despite the attempts of a few empirical and quantitative studies. A recent study examined the impact of the Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) program on Metrorail’s ridership in Washington, DC. When CaBi trips were mapped, it was observed that Metrorail stations had been important origins and destinations for CaBi trips. Six of seven CaBi stations producing more than 500 trips were located close to Metrorail stations. This study conducted a regression analysis and found that public transit ridership was positively associated with CaBi ridership at the station level. A 10% increase in annual CaBi ridership contributed to a 2.8% increase in average daily Metrorail ridership.

Change

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is creating a new position in his administration called the “Complete Streets Commissioner.” Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt says the Complete Streets Commissioner will be tasked with “making sure our streets are as multimodal as possible, including advocating for protected bike lanes.” Along with advocating for more multimodal roads, Hitt says the Complete Streets Commissioner will implement what the Kenney administration is calling its “dig-once” policy, which seeks to cut back on the number of times that the city’s utilities rip up the streets. The idea, says Hitt, is that “when we have to dig for one project, let’s make sure we’re doing any other scheduled [or] needed work that would require tearing up the street at the same time.” The administration is still looking for candidates.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announcedthis month the launch of a $12.5-million program aimed at making the streets of the commonwealth safer. The program is called the Complete Streets Funding Program and will focus on helping cities and towns around the commonwealth make their street networks safer for all users. The $12.5 million will be used for technical assistance and construction, as well as training sessions for municipal employees. Jacquelyn Goddard, spokesperson for MassDOT, said the funding program will be helpful for ensuring the safety of not only pedestrians, but also cyclists and drivers.

Arlington County, VA‘s new Neighborhood Complete Streets Program, approved by the County Board at its January meeting, could have a radical impact on the lives of some residents. Dennis Leach, deputy director of transportation, said the project focuses on providing safer streets for multi-family neighborhoods. The new projects are prioritized based on points “earned” from problems facing the street, like speeding issues, frequent crashes, inadequate street lighting, and lacking in sidewalks. Additional points come from the location of the street, with priority given to those near a metro station, school, bus stop, or along a bicycle route. Once the streets in need are determined, the program will assess potential solutions and funding related issues, then presenting its proposal to the County Board.

The city of Sandy Springs, GA will host a public information meeting tonight, February 17 at 6:00pm EST, to gain input as it begins the process of developing a Complete Streets Plan for Glenridge Drive between Roswell Road and the Glenridge Connector. The meeting will include an open house, brief presentation, and hands-on workshop. The overall goal of developing a Complete Streets plan for the Glenridge Drive corridor “is to provide recommendations for creating a safe, connected, and efficient transportation system within the city,” Sandy Springs said in its news release.

Last week, the City Council of Iola, KS enacted a Complete Streets Policy by a unanimous vote. With passage of the policy, Iola becomes the ninth Kansas community to adopt Complete Streets provisions, joining Hutchison, Kansas City, Lawrence, Leawood, Overland Park, Roeland Park, Topeka, and Wichita, as well as Johnson County, and the Lawrence-Douglas County MPO. The Complete Streets Policy was a logical next step for the city, which had been following an informal internal policy of adding sidewalks, curb cuts, enhanced crosswalks, trails, and bicycle sharrows on city streets in recent years as part of ongoing street upgrades and additions. The Complete Streets Policy offers a firm commitment to on-street bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, setting the stage for future improvements to active transportation in Iola.

Millburn, NJ‘s Township Committee met this month to discuss and present the Complete Streets Initiative. The ambitious plan was conceived a year ago as a revitalization plan for downtown Millburn. The enhancements to the thoroughfares are intended to improve pedestrian walkways, optimize traffic flow, increase safety, boost economic vitality, and create a more attractive downtown. John McCormack, director of Traffic Engineering at Sam Schwartz Engineering, presented a thorough explanation of how the planned initiative will reduce traffic congestion and increase pedestrian safety. He further explained that based on extensive traffic studies, reducing three lanes to two and simultaneously widening them would create noticeable benefits. Some of the major changes will be the addition of reverse angle parking spaces replacing several parallel spaces, widening sidewalks, designating loading zones, creating shorter pedestrian cross walks, and eliminating left turns.

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