National Complete Streets Coalition

Changing Policy

Complete Streets policies formalize a community’s intent to plan, design, and maintain streets so they are safe for all users of all ages and abilities. Policies direct transportation planners and engineers to consistently design and construct the right-of-way to accommodate all anticipated users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, motorists, and freight vehicles. Some communities have paid special attention to other users, such as equestrians and those using golf carts.

Currently, few government agencies require complete transportation corridors and networks for all users. Many times, projects add automobile capacity and increase vehicle speeds, but do nothing to mitigate the negative effects this can have on those traveling by foot, bike, or public transportation.

Complete Streets can be achieved through a variety of policies: ordinances and resolutions; rewrites of design manuals; inclusion in comprehensive plans; internal memos from directors of transportation agencies; policies adopted by city and county councils; and executive orders from elected officials, such as Mayors or Governors. All policies should include the ten elements of a Complete Streets policy.

Complete Streets Policy Development 101: Presentation

Use this presentation, its comprehensive presenter’s notes, and the below resources to lead a discussion of Complete Streets policy development in your town.
Download: Complete Streets: Changing Policy (.pptx, 9.8 MB)

Policy resources

  • The Ten Elements of a Complete Streets Policy — Complete Streets can be formally adopted in a variety of ways, including ordinances, resolutions, agency policies, plans, and design guides. The Coalition has established ten key elements that are part of a comprehensive Complete Streets policy and approach. When both developing and implementing Complete Streets, these ten elements should be considered. (Free.)
  • Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook — To support the varying needs and goals of communities across the country, the Coalition published a comprehensive workbook for communities to follow when writing their own Complete Streets policies. For use by city and county agencies, the guide is based in national existing policy and best practices and encourages a thoughtful, inclusive process for developing locally appropriate policy language. (Free.)
  • Best Complete Streets Policies — Each year, the Coalition reviews the policies adopted to date and assesses how well they meet the ten elements of a Complete Streets policy. The report highlights exemplary policy language and provides leaders at all levels of government with ideas for how to create strong Complete Streets policies. (Free.)
  • Policy Atlas — As part of its ongoing work, the Coalition collects and shares information on all policies adopted to date. Our Atlas includes an interactive map of all regional and local policies, a downloadable list of all jurisdictions with a Complete Streets policy, and a downloadable chart of all state-level policies. (Free.)
  • Workshop: Complete Streets Policy Development — Our daylong workshop led by two national experts helps communities examine current policies and practices, identify local policy goals, and begin drafting a thorough Complete Streets policy. (Fee-based assistance.)