Get fast facts on the FAST Act — The FAST Act is the first federal transportation bill to ever include language on Complete Streets, but how exactly do these provisions help ensure the safety of all users? A new resource from the National Complete Streets Coalition provides an overview of Complete Streets in the FAST Act as well as useful resources for navigating federal funding sources. Download the FAST Act Fact Sheet to learn how federal Complete Streets legislation can offer better transportation options, improve public health, support retired Americans, advance economic development, reinvest in underserved communities, help kids get to school, and keep people safe while biking and walking.
Celebration at the Sixth Annual Complete Streets Dinner — The National Complete Streets Coalition hosted our Sixth Annual Complete Streets Dinner last week at La Tasca, in downtown Washington, DC. More than 50 supporters, partners, and friends joined us to celebrate 10 years as a Coalition and over 845 Complete Streets policies passed at the state, regional, and local levels. The Coalition’s former leaders, Barbara McCann, Roger Millar, and Stefanie Seskin, were honored for their commitment to the Complete Streets movement. Thank you to everyone who joined us at the dinner! If you didn’t attend, check out our event recap.
Complete Streets workshop heads to Florida — The National Complete Streets Coalition will be in Bartlow, FL on January 27 and 28 to conduct an Advanced Complete Streets Design for Professionals workshop with Florida’s Department of Transportation District 1 staff. Through hands-on coaching, the workshop will build Complete Streets design expertise among participants and assist the District 1 design team in incorporating the most current context-sensitive design practices into their roadway project development process moving forward. For more information on Complete Streets workshops, contact Linda Tracy at 406-880-3880.
Send us your 2015 Complete Streets policies — Did your community pass a Complete Streets policy last year? We’re currently reviewing city, county, regional, and state policies passed in 2015 in preparation for our Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015 report. Send your policy to Mary Eveleigh by Monday, January 25 for consideration in the report.
Buses Mean Business: The economic benefits of BRT — Buses, you say? All across the U.S., interest in bus rapid transit (BRT) is booming as a smart, more affordable transit option. For the first time, a new peer-reviewed study provides compelling evidence that BRT systems in the U.S. can generate economic development, attract jobs, retail, and affordable housing—at a cost that’s well within reach for many mid-sized American cities. Join Transportation for America on Monday, January 25 at 3:30 p.m. EST for a webinar unveiling the results of this new study with author Chris Nelson. Register for the webinar.
(Re)building Downtown: Your questions answered — Last month, Smart Growth America hosted a kickoff panel discussion of (Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization. Following the panel, we had a fantastic conversation and Q+A session with our five panelists, which was unfortunately cut short by time. In follow up, Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development and one author of the new guide, has written a blog post to address remaining questions.
Safe Routes to School meets Safe Routes to Parks — Children and adults in the United States are not getting enough physical activity, and our health is suffering as a result. But communities are working on many strategies to help—making it easier and safer to walk and bicycle, expanding access to parks, and more. One important place for collaboration and advocacy is around making sure that people can safely walk and bicycle to parks—an approach known as ‘safe routes to parks.’ To help local communities implement this approach, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership has released a factsheet detailing three key components and the how-to’s of a ‘safe routes to parks’ plan.
The benefits of shared space — The University of Connecticut released a study that shows how shared space, a design concept that encourages all users to share street space, can provide much greater vehicular capacity than conventional intersections and increases pedestrian convenience. By redesigning streets and intersections as human-scaled places and incorporating shared space concepts, communities of all sizes have successfully encouraged active transportation, stimulated their local economies, reduced accident severity, and lessened their environmental impacts. The study compared actual user delays at six shared space intersections to expected user delays using standard U.S. traffic modeling software.
Beyond Traffic: The Smart City Challenge — The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) study Beyond Traffic 2045: Trends and Choices indicates that many communities will experience rapid population increases and rapidly growing demands on their transportation infrastructure in the next few decades. In response, USDOT’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology has released a factsheet for local communities summarizing its Smart City Challenge, an effort designed to help cities address the difficulties presented by rapid growth.
Parking Infrastructure: A Constraint or Opportunity? — Many cities have adopted minimum parking requirements, but there is relatively poor information about how parking infrastructure has grown. A new report from the Journal of the American Planning Association estimates how parking has grown in Los Angeles County from 1900 to 2010 and how parking infrastructure evolves, affects urban form, and relates to changes in automobile travel using building and roadway growth models. Study findings suggest the continued use of minimum parking requirements is likely to encourage automobile use at a time when metropolitan areas are actively seeking to manage congestion and increase transit use, biking, and walking.
This fall, the town of Swanzey became the fourth community in New Hampshire to adopt a Complete Streets policy. The small town of 7,300 is being held up as a model for other communities who are striving to provide planning guidelines that support roads designed for all modes of transportation. The Southwest Region Planning Commission worked with Swanzey to develop two different Complete Streets models that can be replicated by communities throughout the state. Swanzey joins Concord, Dover, and Portsmouth in adopting a Complete Streets policy, while advocacy efforts have been underway for statewide adoption of a Complete Streets policy by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
When a new street is built in North Mankato, Minnesota—or even when one is reconstructed—the city will now carefully consider whether there is room and reason to designate space for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other travelers. The policy, called a Complete Streets initiative, was approved by the City Council this month as part of an effort to make the community healthier, safer, and more attractive to potential residents. “We are going to look at it through the lens of how users of all ages and abilities can take advantage of a street,” said City Administrator John Harrenstein. “Having a street system that accommodates different users is important to having a vibrant community.”
Watertown, New York officials are ready to embrace a state program aimed at making sure streets are safe for everyone who uses them. At a January 4 meeting, the City Council expressed interest in pursuing a Complete Streets program. In October, the city and the state Department of Transportation had hosted a workshop on the program, part of a nationwide movement launched in 2004 by the National Complete Streets Coalition. At the workshop, around 40 city officials, representatives from local agencies, developers, and business leaders learned that integrating the Complete Streets philosophy is an investment in the community.
Howard County, Maryland‘s first Bicycle Master Plan, known as BikeHoward, is pedaling toward approval as the initiative has been submitted to the planning board for review. Designed to improve and promote bicycling throughout the county, the plan includes recommendations and ideas to update policies, develop programs for education, encouragement, and enforcement, as well as improve infrastructures to make the area more bikeable and walkable. In addition to BikeHoward’s environmental contributions, County Executive Allan Kittleman said he has included a letter in the master plan outlining a Complete Streets policy. County departments, the Columbia Association, and the Howard County Public School System will then work together as the Complete Streets implementation team to review the county’s design manual and provide a report of possible updates within a year.
A Complete Streets policy that accommodates all forms of transportation is up for consideration by the Dixon, California Planning Commission. In order to continue eligibility for transportation grant funding and in conformance with state law, Dixon must adopt a Complete Streets policy, according to a staff report submitted to the commission. The California Complete Streets Act of 2008 is the Legislative foundation for Complete Streets. Additionally, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has placed a Complete Streets condition on jurisdictions that wish to be eligible for One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) Cycle 2 funding, which can cover discretionary activities. A Complete Streets resolution would keep Dixon eligible for any OBAG Cycle 2 funds, including local streets and roads maintenance funds.
On January 6, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation heard testimony regarding proposed bills aimed at improving road safety. “I have heard from many constituents about improving bike safety and pedestrian safety over the years,” said State Senator Jason Lewis, who is sponsoring one of the bills. “We do want to find ways to improve safety for all modes of transportation.” Lewis’ bill would create a special license plate people can purchase, with the proceeds going to the state’s Complete Streets program. The state’s Department of Transportation is poised to roll out the program, which will provide grants to communities that meet certain criteria for infrastructure upgrades such as sidewalks and bike lanes.