Complete Streets News – January 2014

Policy Adoption

Baltimore County became the sixth Maryland jurisdiction with a Complete Streets policy when its County Council adopted Resolution 126-13 just before Christmas. The detailed policy was crafted by the county’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, which had been working toward a policy since 2011. Councilman David Marks lauded its passage, saying that despite the suburban county’s progress in constructing bicycle and trail infrastructure over the past several years, “we have very little land for new roads and need to use existing transportation capacity as wisely as possible.” Read more >>

Policy Action

The Michigan Department of Transportation recently completed work on its Complete Streets implementation plan, which includes revamping internal policies and procedures and specifying the procedure for allowing exceptions to Complete Streets requirements. Measurement, reporting, and outreach are also key components of the implementation plan. Michigan DOT plans to unveil a Complete Streets website this spring. Read more >>

The New York City Department of Transportation released the sixth annual progress report on its Sustainable Streets program, which measures the city’s transportation network performance in several dimensions. The report shows the remarkable progress the city has made in multimodal mobility and pedestrian safety, as well as showing the real benefits that Complete Streets can bring to residents and businesses. NYCDOT’s performance reporting is a model for communities looking to measure their success implementing Complete Streets.

2013 was a big year for Complete Streets implementation in Independence, Missouri, which adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2011. Among the projects recently completed or underway are nearly ten miles of marked bike lanes and sharrows, a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge being built to connect two trail networks across the Little Blue River, staff training for bike counts, and plans for wayfinding signage throughout the city. Read more >>

A bold plan for downtown Indianapolis proposed by civic and business leaders embraces the vision for Complete Streets established in the city’s 2012 ordinance. Read more >>

Tulsa, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved over $900m for the “Improve Our Tulsa” capital improvements program, which includes funding to implement its ADA Transition and Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, sidewalk improvements, and a Bus Rapid Transit project. These projects help fulfil the promise of Tulsa’s 2012 Complete Streets resolution. Read more >>

Pennsylvania’s new transportation bill raises the priority of walking, biking, and transit investments. Of $2.4 billion in capital spending annually, the bill dedicates up to $144 million to a competitive multimodal fund available for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, $495 million to transit, and $1.65 billion to roads, bridges and highways. The bill also makes it easier to use state funds for pedestrian safety and streetscaping projects. Pennsylvania Walks and Bikes calls the bill “a dramatic win for the future of walking and biking.” The bill increases revenue by uncapping an oil company franchise tax at an estimated cost to consumers of about $3 per week. Read more >>

Federal policy update — Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) introduced the Safe Streets Act, which requires federally funded transportation projects to accommodate all road users and gives states and metro regions two years to write their own Complete Streets policies. A new issue brief from Kevin DeGood of the Center for American Progress discusses why it’s a federal responsibility to promote safe and accessible mobility for all. The Safe Streets Act now has seven co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Encourage your federal representatives to support the Safe Streets Act today!

Coalition News

Annual Complete Streets dinnerThe fourth annual National Complete Streets Coalition dinner brought together the top minds working for Complete Streets across the country, including Steering Committee members, workshop instructors, staff from our Partner organizations, and state and municipal transportation leaders. This year’s featured guest was Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities for Philadelphia. Ms. Cutler discussed Philadelphia’s Complete Streets Design Handbook, a model for Complete Streets implementation. We hope you’ll join us and other Complete Streets supporters for next year’s event.

Congratulations to Barbara McCann — In other good news for Complete Streets supporters, Coalition founding executive director Barbara McCann has been appointed to an important role at the U.S. Department of Transportation. McCann is the new director of USDOT’s Office of Safety, Energy and Environment. In an email to colleagues, McCann wrote that in her new role she will be “responsible for overseeing the Department’s strategic planning process and will help set Departmental policies, plans and guidelines relating to safety and environmental sustainability (and much more).” Congratulations, Barbara!

McCann wrote the book on Complete Streets implementation: Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks. We recently excerpted her wisdom on coalition-building strategies and the opportunities in routine maintenance activities. The Coalition will continue to promote and use the book in its work.

Thank you Partners! — The Coalition thanks its Partners who recently renewed their support: Our Silver Partners, Gresham, Smith & Partners and Sam Schwartz Engineering, and our Bronze Partners, RBA Group, Inc., and LJB, Inc. We also welcome our newest Bronze Partners, independent consultant Roger Henderson, and Transportation Resource Group. Support the Coalition’s work by becoming a Partner today! Upgrade or join and receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks by Barbara McCann.

Complete Streets News

Arizona cities are seeing the value of Complete Streets and incorporating its principles into community planning. The push for Complete Streets often comes from health officials, who know firsthand the consequences of environments that impede active lifestyles. Read more >>

The board of Metro, the Los Angeles County transit agency and regional planning body, convened a daylong conference to build consensus around creating a Complete Streets policy. Local leaders explained the benefits of Complete Streets in recent video posted by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s California state network. The Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative Complete Streets Meeting brought advocates, agency staff, and elected officials together to discuss the benefits of Complete Streets and plan a timeline for developing a strong regional policy. Public meetings on the process are planned for February and March, and the Metro Board will likely take up a draft policy at their June meeting. Read more >>

BikeWalkLee, which advocates for pedestrian and bicycle issues in Lee County, Florida, has named two southwest Florida cities and their local advocacy groups as its 2013 “Complete Streets Champions” for their work in promoting streets that safely accommodate all users. BWL honored Cape Coral and Cape Coral Bike-Ped for “its innovative public/private partnership to create a safe and connected system of more than 90 miles of cycling routes within Cape Coral,” and the City of Sanibel and the Sanibel Bicycle Club for years of work to build a more walkable, bikeable community.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is ready to follow New Orleans’ lead and start moving toward Complete Streets, but for one local columnist, that shift should be happening a lot faster. Read more >>

Kirksville, Missouri, has been awarded a grant by the Missouri Foundation for Health to bring Complete Streets to the city. Part of the foundation’s Healthy and Active Communities program to address barriers to healthy lifestyles, the $296,000 grant will fund street and sidewalk improvements and aid in the development of a local Complete Streets ordinance. Read more >>

A Complete Streets bill in St. Louis County, Missouri, continues to be debated. Though many Complete Streets improvements in the county already have a dedicated funding stream from a voter-approved sales tax, the county’s highway department has raised alarms about the possible cost of the policy. Bicycle riders who argue that bicycles fare best when mixed with general automobile traffic have also come out strongly against the policy. There’s currently no timetable for when the third amended version of the bill, which attempts to address opponents’ concerns, will be reintroduced to the council. Read more >>

Fredonia, New York, a community of 11,000, sees a Complete Streets ordinance as way to establish a clear vision for safe, balanced roadways that will inform future opportunities for transportation projects. Read more >>

As traffic has worsened in the fast-growing region, Austin, Texas, has spent several decades trying build its way out of it with more roadways. Reports NPR, even an 85 mph tollway had no impact on rush hour gridlock. Facing a doubling of its population over the next 25 years, the city is seeing that the answer is giving Austinites the choice to make fewer, and shorter, trips by car and more trips by walking, bicycling, and tracking transit. Read more >>

An article in Public Works explores relaxing parking minimums and strategies to maximize existing space to better balance needs in retail and mixed-use districts. Complete Streets are a key aspect of allowing people to access multiple destinations without starting the car multiple times. Read more >>

In a new Governing survey of the most walkable large cities in the U.S. (measured as the walking commute mode share in cities over 100,000 people), seven of the top ten have Complete Streets policies in place. Of the large cities showing the fastest growth in walking commutes from 2007 to 2012, half have Complete Streets policies. Read more >>

The group that oversees the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) — the authority on which signs, signals, and street markings are permitted on U.S. streets — is poised to give bike boxes and bicycle-only signals “non-experimental” approval pending their inclusion in the next edition of the manual. This step will give agencies implementing Complete Streets more design choices to accommodate people of all ages riding bicycles in their communities. Read more >>

A new study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) finds great changes in transportation habits in the country’s 100 most populous metropolitan areas. Examining data from several federal agencies for the period 2006–2011, the study finds that 99 out of 100 metros saw a decrease in the share of car commuters, and large majorities with drops in the number of 2+ car households, and increases in bicycle commutes and the number of car-less households. These findings show the changing transportation context of American communities that needs to be addressed through mulitmodal transportation planning. Read more >>

Incomplete Streets Death: Valentine Khubeyeva — In the early evening of December 13, 2013, Valentine Khubeyeva, 70, was fatally struck by the driver of an SUV while walking on Southeast Powell Boulevard in Portland, Oregon. The stretch of road where Khubeyeva was struck has no sidewalks, few marked crosswalks, and poor lighting. The corridor has been noted for the dangers it poses to people on foot and on bicycles; eight of the city’s worst crash hotspots are located along the road. Read more >>

Resources

Handbook: The Innovative DOT — Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) have released the second edition of The Innovative DOT: A Handbook of Policy and Practice. The handbook makes recommendations state transportation officials can use to make transportation systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied. The 2014 edition adds three new strategies for reform, 20 new case studies, and numerous updates.

Report: The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets — New York City Department of Transportation released a comprehensive report on the impacts of street design improvements on neighborhood economies. The report details a robust methodology for assessing these impacts based on sales tax receipts from street-level retail and restaurant/food service businesses in areas around the street improvements. The results show a positive increase in retail sales after streets were made more accessible and welcoming to people traveling by all modes.

Report and Webinar: Freight Transportation Demand Management — A report from SSTI explores strategies for reducing the impacts, to both communities and carriers/shippers, of freight transportation in urban areas. The strategies examined range from parking policies to freight modal shift and comprehensive land-use reform. An accompanying webinar discusses the report’s findings and strategies.

Report: International strategies to improve traffic safety — A study of traffic safety in cities in the U.S. and worldwide finds that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure helps improve safety not only for its targeted users, but for all users of the transportation system. The report, by EMBARQ, the sustainable transportation program of the World Resources Institute, finds that by reducing congestion and vehicles miles traveled, sustainable transportation investments like high-quality transit and Complete Streets make driving safer as well saving lives of people on foot, bicycles, and transit.

Guide & Webinar: Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities — The Federal Highway Administration’s Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety describes best practices for maintenance of sidewalks and shared use paths, providing examples from jurisdictions that have developed effective policies for building and maintaining pedestrian facilities. The guide includes a review of local maintenance programs from 50 municipalities and state agencies and an overall assessment of the current practice of pedestrian facility maintenance, including snow removal. An accompanying webinar expands on the guide and discusses successful all-season approaches to sidewalk and path maintenance from throughout the country.

Report: The Business Case for Smart Growth — A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities discusses the benefits accruing to businesses from locating in places with a compact mix of uses and a variety of transportation options, including walkable and bikeable streets. “Smart Growth and Economic Success: The Business Case” explores the advantages of a Smart Growth locations in terms of productivity and innovation, ability to compete for labor and customers, and retail sales.

Study: Systematic Bicycle and Pedestrian Traffic Measurement — Colorado DOT and researchers at the University of Colorado-Denver report on methodologies for estimating bicycle and pedestrian volumes based on limited samples. The study surveys existing literature on the subject and tests techniques for counts at several Colorado locations. Researchers recommend varying count techniques based on such distinguishing factors as recreational versus commuter traffic, seasonal variations, and the effects of land use, age, and socioeconomic influences in surrounding areas.

Call for Presentations: American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting — The ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo will be in Denver November 21–24 this year. The conference is accepting presentation proposals through January 30 for both educational and field application sessions.

Call for Proposals: Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2014 — Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place is currently accepting applications through January 31 for its 2014 conference, which will take place in Pittsburgh September 8–11. The conference will be organized on four tracks: Change, Connect, Prosper, and Sustain.

Conference: National Bike Summit — The 2014 National Bike Summit will take place March 3–5 in Washington, DC. This year’s focus is strengthening the bicycle movement and building momentum in Congress for bicycle safety, funding, and equity. Register by January 22 for a discounted rate.

Conference: National Women’s Bicycling Forum — The National Women’s Bicycling Forum will take place on the first day of the National Bike Summit (see above). The forum will include sessions on advocacy campaigns, media, marketing, and communications best practices, and building a new generation of leaders.

Quotes

“The purpose of our streets isn’t just to move as many vehicles as humanly possible as fast as humanly possible. The purpose of our streets is to connect neighborhoods.”
Councilmember Mike Bonin, City of Los Angeles, Metro Director

“People want the ability to walk more. People want to be connected with commercial areas more. They don’t want to have to get in their car and drive four times around the block in order to get to the grocery store when they could have walked half a block to get there, but they were shut off by tall fences.”
Mayor Scott Smith, Mesa, Arizona

“Transportation decisions are long-term investments. If St. Louis County doesn’t change course now . . . we may have the same bus stops in the same drainage ditches 50 years from now. It’s time to do better. The payoff is more transportation choices and safer, more pleasant ways to get around.”
Scott Ogilvie, 24th Ward alderman in St. Louis, MO

“If you can walk to work or take your bike on a daily basis, I think that’s just about the coolest thing that there is.”
Jerry Seinfeld

Thank you to our Partners:
Complete Streets Local Leaders Council