Safety Demonstration Projects: Case studies from Durham, NC, Huntsville, AL, and Pittsburgh, PA

In the past three years, drivers struck and killed more people walking than in three decades. This happens in part because we continue to design our streets to prioritize moving cars—not people—as quickly as possible, creating a dangerous, high-speed environment for all people who use the street. To test out creative approaches to safer street design, the National Complete Streets Coalition launched the Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy. We worked with three cities around the country to build skills in safer street design, creative placemaking, and community engagement, then helped the cities put these skills into practice. Through demonstration projects, the Cities of Durham, NC, Huntsville, AL, and Pittsburgh, PA transformed their streets and intersections into slower, safer places for people. Communities around the country can learn from the stories of these demonstration projects to test out low-cost ways to create safer streets.

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Pittsburgh, PA demonstration project: Lincoln and Frankstown Avenues

Pittsburgh’s demonstration project made it safer and easier to cross the streets surrounding an elementary school by reconfiguring a dangerous intersection and introducing protected pedestrian refuges at crosswalks.

Through the Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy, Smart Growth America worked with three cities around the country to implement temporary safety demonstration projects. The City of Pittsburgh historically relied on 311 requests to help decide which streets need safety improvements, but when a team from the city looked more closely at the data, they realized they were not reaching the whole community through this process. In particular, they were not addressing key locations with high crash rates in low-income communities of color because this traditional channel of collecting complaints. In partnership with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the Allegheny County Health Department, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and PennDOT, they launched a demonstration project at one such site to implement safety projects and to establish new partnerships with the community. Working closely with a local school, they added crosswalks with protected refuges to help children reach school more safely, and they also redesigned the intersection of Lincoln and Frankstown Avenues to make it less stressful for all people—including drivers—in the process.

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Huntsville, AL demonstration project: 4 Mile Post


Huntsville’s demonstration project added more intensive improvements to an existing crosswalk on a high-speed road where very few drivers yield to people crossing and filled in a missing bike connection to a nearby greenway.

Through the Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy, Smart Growth America worked with three cities around the country, including Huntsville, to implement temporary safety demonstration projects. The City of Huntsville partnered with the South Huntsville Business Association, AARP, and the Rotary Club to implement a demonstration project on 4 Mile Post. The project makes it easier and safer for people to walk or bike along and across the street, and it also restores missing connections between nearby destinations, including homes, parks, trails, and employment centers. Along the way, the team faced resistance from elected leaders outside the project area who opposed any project—even a temporary one—that would take space away from cars, but thanks to their persistence and close engagement with the community, they won the support they needed to install temporary safer streets improvements on 4 Mile Post and to work toward making these changes permanent.

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Durham, NC demonstration project: West Club Boulevard

Durham’s demonstration project on West Club Boulevard introduced a new, much-needed mid-block crossing between a major bus stop and a shopping mall. The project also closed a lane of traffic to create a space for buses to pull over and to encourage drivers to slow down and yield to people crossing.

Through the Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy, Smart Growth America worked with three cities around the country, including Durham, to implement temporary safety demonstration projects. The City of Durham recognized their demonstration project as an opportunity to try out more intensive, inclusive methods of community engagement to reach segments of their community they have not connected with in the past. They identified a dangerous site along West Club Boulevard, where a frequently used bus stop across from a shopping mall offered no safe, convenient way for bus riders to cross. The team conducted intercept surveys at the bus stop to learn more about the safety challenges people experienced and to guide the design of their demonstration project. Based on these insights, the team reduced the number of lanes on West Club Boulevard and installed a new mid-block crossing, resulting in safer, slower driving speeds and better yielding to people crossing. The project also spurred important conversations and partnerships with bus riders and with a local bike advocacy group.

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New federal bill would make our streets safer—plus, see the 100 most dangerous House districts


A handful of leaders in the House and Senate just introduced a bill that would finally require states and metro areas to design and build safer streets for everyone. Plus, our new report shows which U.S. House representatives have the highest rate of people struck and killed while walking in their districts.

Advocacy Complete Streets Transportation

Webinar Recap: The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2018


Last week we brought together representatives from three of the top ten communities with high scoring policies in our recent report, The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2018. They shared their insights on the process of passing a strong Complete Streets policy and answered viewers’ questions. A recording of the webinar is now available. You can also read the brief recap below.

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Complete Streets steering committee spotlight: S&ME


The National Complete Streets Coalition is just that—a coalition—and our success is made possible by our many partner organizations. S&ME is one of the newest members of our Steering Committee and we’re proud to welcome them. We sat down with George Kramer, area manager for planning & design, to learn more about their work and what drives their commitment to Complete Streets.

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Announcing the Best Complete Streets Policies of 2018

The National Complete Streets Coalition has released their annual evaluation of new Complete Streets policies. This year, a new and improved grading framework set a higher bar for communities by emphasizing equity and implementation. Download the full report—The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2018—for the full ranking and community profiles.

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