Complete Streets is a planning and design process that changes the way most roads are planned, designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to enable safe access for all users. The National Complete Streets Coalition brings together public interest groups such as AARP, the National Association of Realtors, and the American Public Transportation Association, as well as practitioner organizations such as the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Planning Association and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. It works for the adoption and effective implementation of Complete Streets policies at the local, state and federal levels.
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 – the first to say “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 successful action taken by communities to institute Complete Streets policies. We welcome you to join us in achieving this goal.