In the Active People, Healthy Nation℠ Champions Institute, a hand-picked group of local elected officials are learning to effectively advocate for and support safer and more Complete Streets. The second class will be receiving comprehensive training to help them become champions in their communities to promote activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations.
The good news is that anyone can learn how to become a champion for Complete Streets with this curated set of resources here in the Champions Corner.
Learn how to take action:
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What are Complete Streets?
Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and managed to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.Learn more about the basics
Where are Complete Streets?
Over 1,600 Complete Streets policies have been passed in the United States, including those adopted by 35 state governments, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.Where are Complete Streets policies?
Economic Benefits Healthy Communities
Older Adults People Living With Disabilities
Small Towns and Rural Communities Safer Streets
Or download the full set at once:
Distance learning: in-depth education about Complete Streets
As part of the Creating Complete Streets Distance Learning Series, we offer two introductory-level modules that take less than one hour to complete and are eligible for AICP credit. Modules can be purchased for $69 each or $95 for both.Learn more and enroll
Module 1: Introduction to Designing for Active Transportation
Module 2: Integrating Land Use into Complete Streets
Original research and reporting
Learn more about Complete Streets by reading these core, foundational reports from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition:
Safer Streets, Stronger Economies
What do communities get for their investments in Complete Streets? In this study of 37 projects, Smart Growth America found that Complete Streets projects tended to improve safety for everyone, increased biking and walking, and showed a mix of increases and decreases in automobile traffic, depending in part on the project goal. Compared to conventional transportation projects, these projects were remarkably affordable and were an inexpensive way to achieve transportation goals.
In this tight budget climate, transportation staff and elected leaders want to get the most out of every dollar. This research shows how Complete Streets projects can help them do just that. Read more >>>
Dangerous by Design
It has been more than a decade since the first edition of Dangerous by Design, and the problem of pedestrian safety has only gotten worse. Dangerous by Design 2022 takes a closer look at the alarming epidemic of people struck and killed while walking, which are up by a staggering 62 percent since they began steadily rising in 2009. The report finds that 6,529 people were struck and killed while walking in 2020, an average of nearly 18 per day, and a 4.7 percent increase over 2019, even as driving decreased overall because of the pandemic’s unprecedented disruptions to travel behavior. Learn more about how our streets are Dangerous by Design and prioritize speed over safety. Read more >>>
Best Complete Streets Policies
We regularly take a look at the Complete Streets policies passed each year to evaluate them and find the strongest policies worth praising—and emulating.
Our most recent annual evaluation of Complete Streets policies (those passed in 2018) was the first to use a new and improved framework that elevates both equity and implementation to grade policies and puts a new emphasis on translating policy into practice and making sure that everyone—and particularly people in low-income areas and communities of color—will benefit. Read more >>>
I know the basics—let’s take it to the next level
What constitutes a great Complete Streets Policy?
Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and managed to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. But more than a decade into this movement, the best policies have evolved to focus far more on implementation and equity. I.e, are policies actually being fully implemented in order to change what gets built? And do they prioritize improving equity in tangible ways?Read about the ten elements in the ideal Complete Streets policy
Measure the benefits of potential Complete Streets projects
Our Benefits of Complete Streets site and tool allows a local community to quantify the benefits of Complete Streets projects, which can equip and arm local leaders and advocates to make these projects more likely by clearly communicating the benefits to their communities. This data-driven tool can help measure and project the benefits across four impact categories of health, safety, environment, and economy—using an approach that keeps equity at the center.
This is one way to demonstrate the benefits of a specific Complete Streets project in local communities, like a site-level intervention such as the reconfiguration of an intersection, or a corridor-level intervention like installing bike lanes, shade trees, or widening pedestrian space. Some data sophistication is required, but we can also help walk you through using it.View the Benefits of Complete Streets site and tool
Toolkits: Perform a walk audit
1) What’s a walk audit?
A walk audit is an incredibly powerful way to assess the walkability of the sidewalks and streets in their community. Watch this video to get a basic introduction to the concept of walk audits
2) How to do a walk audit of your own:
This full kit from our friends at AARP provides step-by-step instructions and checklists for examining intersections, sidewalks, driver behavior, public safety and more. Once completed the documented results can be shared with elected officials and other local leaders when advocating for such safe streets features as sidewalks, crosswalks and properly timed traffic lights.View the AARP walk audit kit
1) Safe Streets and Missouri’s Model Policy:
The most important policy step that any community can take to advance Complete Streets is to pass a policy of its own. There are a range of policies worth emulating, but this policy from BikeWalkKC in Kansas City was one of the highest scoring policies we’ve ever reviewed. They have provided this version that you can use as a starting point or even plug-and-play with your municipality’s name.Download the BikeWalkKC policy
2) Model policies to encourage activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations
When it comes to encouraging physical activity, Complete Streets are only one part of the puzzle for building more active communities. Land use and the built environment are incredibly important, and a wider range of policies are needed. These model policies go beyond transportation to incorporate land use and the built form—the spaces where building frontages meet the edge of the street and/or sidewalk.Read the model policies
More complex research from SGA and NCSC
Take the next step with more sophisticated research and reports from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition:
Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities
Places that have made biking and walking from place to place a safe, convenient, and enticing choice have produced positive impacts on businesses, jobs, and revenue. When it’s safer and more convenient for people to walk or bicycle as part of their regular routine, more people get the amount of physical activity that science proves they need to reduce their risk of certain chronic diseases. How have regions successfully brought these projects to fruition? How are they integrating them into the processes of choosing what to build? How are they upending perhaps decades of radically different priorities to make these types of projects the norm? This guidebook from our Transportation for America program tells these stories in detail. Read more >>>
Hundreds of companies across the United States are moving to and investing in walkable downtown locations. As job migration shifts towards cities and as commercial real estate values climb in these places, a vanguard of American companies are building and expanding in walkable downtown neighborhoods. Why are companies choosing these places? What are the competitive advantages they see in these locations? And what features do they look for when choosing a new location?
Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown examines the characteristics, motives, and preferences of companies that have either relocated, opened new offices, or expanded in walkable downtowns between 2010 and 2015. Read more >>>
Foot Traffic Ahead
Foot Traffic Ahead 2023 ranks the top 35 metro areas by their walkable urbanism using an index that considers premiums in commercial rents, multifamily rental rates, and for-sale home prices. The report also provides policymakers with recommendations on how to increase both the supply of and access to equitable, walkable urban development while safeguarding affordability and providing benefits such as improving community health, lowering emissions by reducing car use, and advancing equity by bringing access to economic opportunity.
Read recent posts related to the Champions Institute
Announcing our first cohort of State Legislator Champions for Complete Streets
The State Legislator Champions Institute is our initiative to equip state legislators from across the country to effectively advocate for and support more activity-friendly transportation in their states. Today, we are proud to announce our first cohort of Champions: 20 state legislators who will receive comprehensive training to help them become Complete Streets Champions by … Continued
Seeking state elected officials to be champions for Complete Streets
Applications are open for a brand new technical assistance opportunity for state elected officials to gain the knowledge and strategy needed to effectively advocate for safer and more Complete Streets. Building on our local Champions Institute program, the first ever State Legislator Champions Institute will also help position participants to make the best use of the influx of funds from the infrastructure law, make their communities more competitive for federal grants, and more.