José Acaron, director of AARP Puerto Rico, speaks before the Puerto Rico Complete Streets Congress. Photo by AARP Puerto Rico, via Facebook.
The first-ever Puerto Rico Complete Streets Congress for Professionals, presented by AARP Puerto Rico on October 3, convened 160 transportation, public health, and other community leaders who want to elevate Complete Streets policies and strategies across the island.
Covering topics ranging from the benefits of Complete Streets to best practices in implementation to design guidance, the event was featured insights from Complete Streets workshops instructor Paul Zykofsky; Ana Rius, Secretary of Health Department for Puerto Rico; Miguel Torres, Secretary of Transportation and Public Works for Puerto Rico; Zaki Mustafa, past present of Institute of Transportation Engineers, a National Complete Streets Coalition Steering Committee member; and long-time Complete Streets advocate Dan Burden.
In 2010, with the support of AARP, Complete Streets became state law in Puerto Rico.
“We have been working since 2008 on Complete Streets: the law, the evaluation committee and manual road design. The next step in the strategy is the education of professionals who are in charge of design. We must teach them that people go first—and then the car,” explained José Acaron, director of AARP Puerto Rico, in an interview with El Nuevo Día.
The Complete Streets Congress had a strong focus on public health. Concern for public health was what motivated the 2010 legislation, Ekon said, citing grim statistics about chronic health conditions among Puerto Ricans. Participants discussed the benefits of integrating walking and other forms of active transportation in road-building and community design. The Puerto Rico Department of Health is actively working to have health considerations included in transportation and land use decision-making.
In December 2014, AARP Puerto Rico and the Department of Health will host a Complete Streets Panel and City Legislative Summit. In addition to learning more about the connection between health and transportation, participants will receive a new Complete Streets model city ordinance. Visit AARP Puerto Rico to learn more.