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 roads to be complete transportation corridors. 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.

  • The State of Minnesota and the cities of Seattle, WA and DeSoto, MO passed legislation to require complete streets within their jurisdictions.
  • City Councils in North Little Rock, AR and Missoula, MT adopted resolutions, setting a guiding principle for city staff to include all users in transportation projects.
  • An executive order was issued by the Governor of Delaware, directing the Department of Transportation to accommodate all users on state projects.
  • The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the city of Baldwin Park, CA have created internal policies that guide staff in creating complete streets.
  • El Paso, TX incorporated Complete Streets into its comprehensive plan, as did Scottsdale, AZ and Champaign, IL.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Transportation undertook a major rewrite of its design manual, incorporating complete streets principles throughout — and won several national awards for their effort. Charlotte, NC rewrote its design guidance and instituted a new, transparent way to make decisions regarding roadway design.

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)


DOWNLOAD: Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook (.pdf)
DOWNLOAD: Complete Streets Policy Analysis (.pdf)
DOWNLOAD: Complete Streets: Policy & Implementation brochure (.pdf)