10 Elements of a Complete Streets Policy

What does a strong Complete Streets policy look like?

Updated in 2018, the Complete Streets policy framework requires accountability to ensure that a policy produces tangible changes and prioritizes the needs of the most vulnerable users. The 10 elements of a strong policy are covered in brief here, but click the button below to download the full policy framework with more details on each element, including the scoring.

Read the detailed version of the 10 elements of a Complete Streets policy

These ten elements below serve as a national model of best practices to create a policy that can be implemented at any level of governance, in any type of place. For communities considering passing a new Complete Streets policy or updating an existing Complete Streets policy, an ideal Complete Streets policy does the following, each of which provide points in the grading process:

graphic of policy element - #1 establishes a commitment and vision

1) Establishes commitment and vision

How and why does the community want to complete its streets? This specifies a clear statement of intent to create a complete, connected network and consider the needs of all users.

graphic of policy element - #2 prioritizes diverse users

2) Prioritizes diverse users

It prioritizes serving the most vulnerable users and the most underinvested and underserved communities, improving equity.

graphic of policy element - #3 applies to all projects and phases

3) Applies to all projects and phases

Instead of a limited set of projects, it applies to all new, retrofit/reconstruction, maintenance, and ongoing projects.

graphic of policy element - #4 allows only clear exceptions

4) Allows only clear exceptions

Any exceptions must be specific, with a clear procedure that requires high-level approval and public notice prior to exceptions being granted.

graphic of policy element - #6 mandates coordination

5) Mandates coordination

Requires private developers to comply, and interagency coordination between government departments and partner agencies.

graphic of policy element - #6 adopts excellent design guidance

6) Adopts excellent design guidance

Directs agencies to use the latest and best design criteria and guidelines, and sets a time frame for implementing this guidance.

graphic of policy element - #7 requires proactive land-use planning

7) Requires proactive land-use planning

Considers every project’s greater context, as well as the surrounding community’s current and expected land-use and transportation needs.

graphic of policy element - #8 measures progress

8) Measures progress

Establishes specific performance measures that match the goals of the broader vision, measurably improve disparities, and are regularly reported to the public.

graphic of policy element - #9 sets criteria for choosing projects

9) Sets criteria for choosing projects

Creates or updates the criteria for choosing transportation projects so that Complete Streets projects are prioritized.

graphic of policy element - #10 creates a plan for implementation

10) Creates a plan for implementation

A formal commitment to the Complete Streets approach is only the beginning. It must include specific steps for implementing the policy in ways that will make a measurable impact on what gets built and where.


Are you interested in passing or updating a policy?

Start with this short introductory guide to adopting and then putting a policy into practice:

Adopt and implement a Complete Streets policy

And then download and use the full guide to The 10 Elements of a Complete Streets Policy. In this detailed guide, we unpack each of the ten elements above in greater detail, including scoring totals for each element so that communities interested in passing a strong policy can get actionable details to help them craft the best possible policy that will make a difference in what gets built and where.

Read about the ten elements in the ideal Complete Streets policy

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