While I sometimes get caught up in the national policy scene, I’m almost always inspired when I pay attention to what Complete Streets means for people around the country. This week I was struck by two newspaper articles that focused on the diversity of people who are championing – and winning – Complete Streets policies.
In Michigan, as reported by his hometown paper, the Saline Reporter:
“When it came time for Conor Waterman, 9, to address the Michigan Senate concerning the recently developed Complete Streets initiative, his father, John Waterman, said Conor was as cool and collected as could be.
Despite the fact the Saline youth had to make his presentation in front of some 150 high-ranking adults, Waterman said Conor was able to deliver his message very effectively, which addressed why public roadways must be made accessible for all travelers, not just motorists.
Conor was joined by another Saline resident, Katie Birchmeier, 9, in delivering the message, along with an additional young person.”
Both Conor and Katie have disabilities, and bicycle or walk to school in Saline (population 8,034). They were in attendance this week when Governor Jennifer Granholm held a ceremonial signing event for the state’s Complete Streets law.
In New Haven, Connecticut, the elected officials themselves represented the diverse groups asking for Complete Streets, as reported in the New Haven Independent:
“Alderman Yusuf Shah arrived by bus and planned to carpool home. Alderman Justin Elicker rode his bike. Despite a recent collision, Alderman Carl Goldfield planned to cycle, too, but had to change his plans.
They all ended up at the same destination with the same result: at City Hall, voting for a plan to make New Haven road travel safer for people who avoid driving cars.
Shah, Elicker, and Goldfield joined a unanimous Board of Aldermen vote to establish the city’s new “Complete Streets” policy. The vote Tuesday night marked the culmination of a legislative process that began over two years ago.”
Alderman Shah, a diabetic, has trouble feeling his feet so sometimes avoids driving; Alderman Elicker bicycles because he wants to save energy.
Martha Roskowski of Boulder, Colorado, who worked with me to coin the term ‘Complete Streets,’ spoke early on about her vision of people from all walks of life standing up in community meetings across the country and asking for Complete Streets.
That vision is now reality.