Since the workshop: Colorado collaborates on Complete Streets

Imagine Westminster community-painted intersection mural. (Photo courtesy of City of Westminster)

Between April and July 2018, the National Complete Streets Coalition worked with 35 transportation and public health professionals from the Denver region to identify and overcome common barriers to Complete Streets policy adoption and implementation in a suburban context. In the six months since our final workshop, the three cities that participated in the program have launched cross-departmental and cross-jurisdictional working groups to develop custom Complete Streets ordinances for their communities.

The cities of Westminster, Aurora, and Arvada, Colorado collaboratively applied for and won the second ever Complete Streets Consortium Series technical assistance, an EPA-funded program designed to bring multiple jurisdictions within the same state together for a series of workshops and webinars.

Over the course of four months, we worked closely with staff from these three cities, as well as representatives from the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), the Tri-County Health Department, the Regional Transportation District (RTD), and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to discuss the challenges and opportunities for applying Complete Streets in a suburban context. Specifically, we focused on inclusive community engagement strategies and opportunities to use Complete Streets to enhance first-mile/last-mile connections to the region’s recent commuter rail expansion.

At the conclusion of our workshops, we recommended these cities convene cross-sectoral task forces to develop Complete Streets ordinances and advocate for their adoption. Since we last met, each of these cities has made progress on moving Complete Streets forward in their communities and on fostering partnerships across departments and jurisdictions.

Cross-sectoral collaboration

Each team convened a broad task force or committee to begin the process of drafting a custom Complete Streets ordinance for their city. In addition to working across the city departments and regional agencies that participated in the Consortium Series, the cities have engaged the following partners to weigh in on Complete Streets:

  • The City of Aurora convened a Complete Streets task force that will meet every other week to review model Complete Streets policies from similar cities and collect input and feedback from community stakeholders. The task force is working closely with the City Council’s Transportation, Airport and Public Works Committee and includes city staff from the departments of Planning, Public Works, Life Safety, Parks and Open Space, and Water.
  • In Arvada, city and regional staff are working together with various citizen groups including the local Transportation Committee, Bicycle Advisory Committee, and Parent Teacher Associations to collaboratively draft a preliminary Complete Streets policy for committee review.
  • The Westminster team is also fostering partnerships with the local community to generate support and awareness for Complete Streets. After the team lead a case study on W. 72nd Avenue during our Consortium Series workshop in Westminster, they worked with local artists to support a community-led initiative called “Imagine Westminster.” This program painted two sidewalk murals to improve safety and walkability on this corridor as well as advocate for safer Complete Streets and cleaner stormwater initiatives.

Imagine Westminster community-painted crosswalk mural. (Photo courtesy of City of Westminster)

Measuring success

The three cities have also worked toward redefining what success means for their streets by establishing new goals and performance measures. For example:

  • The team from Arvada—in collaboration with their city’s Neighbors Connected program—developed a new Mobility Index that measures access to transit and bike lanes, safety for people walking, and use of ride hailing and dockless bikeshare. This index will help the city prioritize projects, make more strategic policy decisions to enhance mobility, and work toward updating their key working documents including their Land Development Code and Traffic Engineering Standards to support Complete Streets.
  • In Aurora, the Complete Streets task force is working to refine the vision and goals they articulated through the Consortium Series. They’re also working to build off these goals with a measurement matrix that they will adopt as part of their Complete Streets policy and use to guide decisions about their transportation system moving forward.
  • The Westminster team has already begun measuring performance of their streets to reflect multimodal Complete Streets and reporting these data to City Council. They’ve started collecting data on miles of bike lanes built per calendar year and implementation of Mobility Action Plan projects, which are small-scale community-selected safety improvements to support walking, biking, and riding transit. In addition, the team updated the city’s Standards and Specifications to include a new purpose section establishing the goal of creating a more multimodal transportation system that enhances mobility, access, safety, health, and economic and environmental sustainability.

These cities are already off to a strong start to move Complete Streets forward in their communities, and we look forward to watching these initiatives continue to evolve in the coming months. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Colorado Consortium Series, and keep up the great work!

The Complete Streets Consortium Series was made possible by a Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Community Revitalization in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information on Smart Growth America’s Technical Assistance program and how your community can request assistance from Smart Growth America on a variety of land use, development, and transportation challenges, please visit our technical assistance home page.

Complete Streets