In the Heart of Texas

Bicycling in downtown San Antonio. Photo: Christina B. Castro
Bicycling in downtown San Antonio. Photo: Christina B. Castro

Big news from a place that doesn’t do anything small: San Antonio has adopted a Complete Streets policy.

With a population of 1.3 million living in just over 400 square miles, San Antonio is the second largest city in the state and the seventh largest in the country. On top of that population, the city hosts thousands of visitors seeking thrills at amusement parks or quiet reflection at the Alamo every year.

Unfortunately, waistlines in San Antonio aren’t small either. In surrounding Bexar County, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Nearly a third of children are, and the number of overweight black and Latino kids is disproportionately high.

With help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program, a broad swath of community leaders have come together to improve opportunities for physical activity, including pursuit of a Complete Streets policy and progress toward its implementation.

On September 29, City Council green-lighted the policy, directing the Alamo City’s planners and engineers to employ a flexible approach in their transportation work, taking into consideration the transportation need and community context of the streets they build or reconstruct. They’ll also consider green infrastructure to better manage stormwater and public art and place-making strategies to boost economic development and community revitalization.

The city’s new policy closes with this clause, a powerful reminder of the importance of building streets that are safe and welcoming for everyone: “Investment in Complete Streets will be considered an investment in the community by striving to decrease congestion, enhance travel options, encourage healthy living, and support vital neighborhoods and commercial centers.”

Complete Streets