Complete Streets resources

Original research, reports, and learning opportunities

Learn more about Complete Streets by reading these core, foundational reports from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition. This curated list is our introduction to what Complete Streets are, how the policies get passed, why they’re needed, and how any community can start to make their streets safer and more inviting for everyone. There’s something for everyone, whether you are new or a more savvy veteran.

Click here to view the full archive of all Complete Streets-related reports, guidebooks, toolkits and other resources.

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


Dangerous by Design

View and download Dangerous by Design here

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 takes a closer look at this alarming epidemic. What this report shows is that our streets aren’t getting safer. Even more so, while traffic deaths impact every community in the United States, states and metropolitan areas across the southern continental United States, older adults, people of color, and people walking in low-income communities bear a higher share of this harm. This report is accompanied by an interactive maps of pedestrian fatalities from the period in the report as well as sortable tables of all state- and metro-level data. Read more >>>

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 >>>

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 our 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 >>>

Find all previous editions of this report at

Safety Demonstration Projects

To test out creative approaches to safer street design, the National Complete Streets Coalition’s works with cities around the country through the Safe Streets Academy to build skills in safer street design, creative placemaking, and community engagement, then helped the cities put these skills into practice. Through demonstration projects, these cities are transforming their streets, intersections, and neighborhoods into slower, safer places for people.

Anyone can learn from the stories of these demonstration projects to test out low-cost ways to create safer streets.

We’ve released several versions of these case studies—find them all here.

>> go back to top


Go deeper

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. Some data sophistication is required, but we can also help walk you through using it.

View the Benefits of Complete Streets site and tool


Complete Streets, Complete Communities Distance Learning Series

Although we may not be able to travel to every community, we want to ensure that anyone can easily access information to guide them on the path toward Complete Streets. The National Complete Streets Coalition now offers online, interactive distance learning modules. As part of the Complete Streets, Complete Communities Distance Learning Series​​, we offer seven introductory-level modules designed for public health and transportation professionals to learn about how to influence community health outcomes through local and regional transportation policies and practices.


Complete Streets webinar series (2017-2020)

From 2017 to 2020, the National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a monthly webinar series, featuring case studies and examples of best practices from communities nationwide and beyond. You can access all of the recordings below.

Over three years, we spent numerous sessions walking through the new (2018) policy framework for Complete Streets, how to focus on implementation and equity, and a second full year of “301” webinars that took deep dives into various policy areas.

View them all here >>>

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 >>>

Core Values

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 2019 ranks the 30 largest metros in the United States based on the percentage of office, retail and rental multi-family space each metro has in their walkable urban places (WalkUPs).

This report powerfully illustrates the price premiums investors and buyers are willing to pay to live or work in walkable, transit-connected neighborhoods—and why we urgently need to build more of them.

Read more >>>