Ames, Iowa made national headlines this fall for painting rainbow crosswalks and then ignoring a request from USDOT to remove them. The incident highlights one way outdated federal guidelines prevent communities from making their streets safer and more pleasant with art and culture. But there are other ways for communities to add some color to streets while improving safety without running afoul of the feds.
The latest developments, events, and resources from the National Complete Streets Coalition:
This October, we kicked off our new webinar series, Complete Streets 301: Putting people first, with our first webinar, “Building Complete Streets: The developer’s perspective.” A recording of the webinar is now available. You can also download a PDF of the presentation or read the brief recap below.
In the conversations about cities, much of the media attention has been focused on young professional or older, retiring Americans. But families with children have been largely overlooked in the midst of our current urban renaissance. There has been some recent debated over whether the number of children (and thus families) is increasing or on the decline in cities, and it got us thinking: what would a place designed for families look like?
Through the Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy, Smart Growth America worked with three cities to implement temporary demonstration projects to create safer streets. This month, we released case studies telling the stories of these three projects. We also held a webinar with representatives from each of the three cities to share lessons learned from these projects, as well as update us on how the projects have evolved since the end of the Academy. You can watch the full recording of this webinar here or download a PDF of the presentations.
After more than a decade of working to build safer streets, strong Complete Streets legislation has finally been introduced in Congress. The Complete Streets Act of 2019 could catalyze the adoptions of thousands of local Complete Streets policies across the country, based on experience in Massachusetts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.