Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Instead of fighting for better streets block by block, the National Complete Streets Coalition seeks to fundamentally transform the look, feel, and function of the roads and streets in our community, by changing the way most roads are planned, designed, and constructed. Complete Streets policies direct transportation planners and engineers to consistently design with all users in mind, in line with the elements of Complete Streets policies.
Our campaign goal is to help with the adoption and implementation of statewide, regional, and local complete streets policies. We also work toward federal policies that support complete streets.
Our 2011 Annual Report (.pdf) details our successes and current projects to help communities adopt and implement a Complete Streets approach.
In late 2010, The National Complete Streets Coalition launched a three-year plan to assure lasting change by establishing effective policies at the federal level, in 25 states, and 200 local jurisdictions. Our next steps to success are:
Getting It Right – helping jurisdictions learn how to meet the challenge of balancing all user needs.We need to dramatically expand this program to meet and exponential growth in demand. We plan to double staff capacity to respond to coaching requests and continue publishing new resources on our website. Importantly, we need to expand our workshop program to enable us to conduct 50 or more workshops each year.
Spreading the Word – researching and producing materials about the benefits of complete streets. We need to raise the public profile of Complete Streets with sustained attention to traditional and new media in order to support our federal campaign, sustain our momentum, and leverage communities’ desires to be recognized for their Complete Streets efforts. We will issue more reports to draw attention to the dangers of drawbacks of incomplete streets; produce news releases, blog posts, and video presentations to celebrate the transportation occurring in communities; and create campaigns to bring the movement to the attention of Congress.
Accountability – provide communities with the tools they need to ensure that their Complete Streets policies lead to on-the-ground change. We will gather more detailed and substantive data from local communities with policies and use it to create performance measures. We seek to create tools in three areas:
- Documents: Do adopted policies include the ten elements of effective Complete Streets policies? What elements are most critical to effective policy implementation?
- Process: Are adopted policies creating changes in the four areas of Complete Streets implementation: training, project development processes, design guidelines, and project selection criteria and performance measures?
- Outcomes: Are all or almost all projects coming out of an agency resulting in improvements for all users? What portion of projects are affects, and what portion are exempt? What changes are being made to individual projects to improve travel for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and people with disabilities?
With more resources devoted to our existing strengths and a new focus on ensuring Complete Streets policies are effective in making change, the National Complete Streets Coalition can solidify our progress – and transform transportation planning in the United States. You can support this important work by becoming a Coalition Partner or donor.
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.
The groups that make up the 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.