The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, is a non-profit, non-partisan alliance of public interest organizations and transportation professionals committed to the development and implementation of Complete Streets policies and practices. A nationwide movement launched by the Coalition in 2004, Complete Streets is the integration of people and place in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks. To date, over 850 agencies have adopted Complete Streets policies.
We promote the development and implementation of policies and professional practices that ensure streets are safe for people of all ages and abilities, balance the needs of different modes, and support local land uses, economies, cultures, and natural environments.
We believe that the streets of our cities and towns must allow all people, regardless of age, ability, income, race, or ethnicity, to safely, comfortably, and conveniently access homes, employment centers, schools, shops, health facilities, and other destinations by foot, bicycle, public transportation, car, or truck. A community’s street network should reflect the current and planned built environments and support overall public and economic health.
To catalyze and sustain local, regional, and state implementation of Complete Streets policies and practices, the Coalition pursues collaborative efforts that:
- Establish best practices in Complete Streets policy and implementation practices
- Provide training and direct technical assistance for transportation professionals
- Develop Complete Streets leadership in the fields of transportation, planning, public health, and urban design and among elected and appointed officials
Members of the National Complete Streets Coalition inform Coalition strategy, collaborate on Coalition projects, and help make the case for Complete Streets across the country. They are experts in building inclusive, multimodal communities and transportation projects and in improving policies and practices at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Membership comes with benefits: national recognition and publicity for Complete Streets efforts, invitations to social events, and access to resources and information about the best and most recent Complete Streets practices.
On December 3, 2003, Barbara McCann, then working for America Bikes, wrote a memo to the America Bikes board suggesting the term “Complete Streets” as a replacement for the clunky term “routine accommodation” — the term then in use to express the idea of including bicycles in everyday transportation planning. Appropriately, the new term grew from a collaborative effort that involved people from a wide range of organizations interested in a more powerful and inclusive name, including Smart Growth America’s David Goldberg, who first suggested the term “Complete Streets.”
Right away, we knew that we had a concept that was bigger than bicycles. Martha Roskowski, the director of America Bikes at the time, Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists, and Barbara McCann began to bring more organizations together, ultimately forming the Complete Streets Task Force. Led by America Bikes, the Task Force had active participation from many groups, including AARP, the American Planning Association, the American Public Transportation Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the American Heart Association. Our initial goal was inclusion of a Complete Streets provision in the federal transportation bill that became SAFETEA-LU, but we soon understood the power of the Complete Streets policy concept on the state and local level. Over the next year, we brought together advocates and transportation practitioners from across the country to define the meaning of Complete Streets. We began to share the best practices of communities that had already developed a commitment to ensuring all transportation projects served the needs of all road users.
Many of the groups on our Steering Committee today stepped up in 2005 to provide financial support and form the National Complete Streets Coalition. We pursued a strategy that depended upon each Coalition member engaging their strengths in working for policy adoption at the federal, state and local level. This strategy turned out to be key, and each group took on projects appropriate to their skills.
Using this coalition model, we long ago passed our initial goal of policy adoption in 5 states and 25 local jurisdictions. Our strong, and growing, Coalition is now benchmarking our success on action taken by communities to institute Complete Streets policies. We welcome you to join us in achieving this goal.