Completing Our Streets: Strategies

AARP and Complete Streets in HawaiiAARP Volunteers rally for Complete Streets in Hawaii. Photo by Jackie Boland.

This post is the eighth and final in our twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

A decade ago, in early December 2003, the term “Complete Streets” was first coined. Today’s excerpt celebrates the many Complete Streets supporters and active Coalition members that helped found the movement and continue to advance the adoption of Complete Streets policies and practices across the country.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

Completing Our Streets: From drudgery to metamorphosis

repaving
Maintenance activities, such as repaving a roadway, offer an opportunity for modest, low-cost improvements toward more complete streets. Photo by Barbara McCann.

This post is the sixth in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 5: Looking for Every Opportunity

Integrating a Complete Streets approach into maintenance and operations projects allows change to begin to happen right away, and such projects also have value precisely because they are pedestrian in the first sense of the word. In Anniston, Alabama, city councilman Jay Jenkins told the Anniston Star that the city’s new Complete Streets policy would be “a plodding kind of change.” The initial changes made to complete the streets can be modest and unimaginative, but within this drudgery lies the makings of metamorphosis.

Completing Our Streets: Who gets priority?

Health Line
Cleveland, OH’s HealthLine is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system that offers rail-like convenience with the flexibility of a bus. It connects Public Square to the Louis Stokes Station at Windermere in East Cleveland. Photo by EMBARQ Brasil via Flickr.

This post is the fifth in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 8: The Balancing Act: Setting Priorities for Different Users

Making a commitment to Complete Streets breaks open a tidy linear system that has traditionally delivered roads designed only to speed motor vehicles to their destinations. The transportation project pipeline was good at taking in a narrow set of inputs at one end and pouring out a finished road at the other. Agencies must now bring many more modes, voices, and considerations into the process all along the way. What was a pipeline can become something of a swamp; everyone involved may end up feeling caught in a morass of competing claims for limited roadway space and limited funding. Rather than simply delivering a project, transportation professionals must navigate their way toward a solution that may not quite satisfy anyone.

Completing Our Streets: The revolution begins with a meeting

Brownsboro Rd before and after
Bill Deatherage, of the Kentucky Council of the Blind, walking along Louisville, KY’s Brownsboro Road before and after sidewalk construction. Photo by Anne M. McMahon.

This post is the fourth in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 4: Process Over Projects: Changing How Decisions are Made

The disconnected sidewalks, marooned bus stops, curb ramps to nowhere, and other gaps in transportation infrastructure are usually a reflection of gaps in the processes used for planning, design, and construction. In many jurisdictions, no one has thought about how to balance the needs of more than one mode, or how to get the details right on small-scale nonmotorized infrastructure, or how to coordinate transportation planning with the surrounding neighborhood. Another gap is human. The people navigating that landscape by foot or wheelchair were likely not in the room when the decisions were made.

Completing Our Streets: Closing the gap between policy and practice

Boulder, CO
Boulder, CO has made a concerted effort over the past 20 years to implement Complete Streets as part of everyday decision making. Photo by Barbara McCann.

This post is the fourth in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 3: Closing the Gap Between Policy and Practice

While adoption of a Complete Streets policy is the first step on a clear path for changing transportation practice, the attempt to marshal political and community support behind a new approach to transportation planning too often flounders once the policy is in place. This is particularly true when the effort has been made primarily from the outside, when advocates or lawmakers have created and adopted a policy with resistance or only lukewarm interest from the transportation agency that has to implement it. The advocates’ euphoria may wear off quickly when absolutely nothing happens inside the department after the policy passes. Or the disillusionment may come more slowly, after many months of working with the agency’s staff and leadership only to find that the changes made are minor or have been blocked by midlevel management.

Completing Our Streets: A smart approach to the cost of Complete Streets

Richfield, MN
In Richfield, Minnesota, a utility project led to the reconfiguration of 76th Street with sidewalks, a side path, and fewer lanes, saving $2 million from original projections. Residents to the east now want to extend the features further along the street. Image via the City of Richfield.

This post is the third in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

Today’s excerpt addresses a common concern: costs. The National Complete Streets Coalition recently published a toolkit to help local supporters respond to cost concerns, with examples from across the country. The report is accompanied by PowerPoint slides that can be downloaded and selectively used in community meetings.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

Completing Our Streets: It takes more than facts to achieve the Complete Streets conversion

fig6-1-open_Nashville signing-2
Nashville, TN Mayor Karl Dean signed a Complete Streets Executive Order in 2010, joined by former Councilmember Erik Cole and former city staffers Toks Omishakin and Chris Bowles. Photo by Gary Layda, City of Nashville.

This post is the second in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the forthcoming book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice. Look for the book out on October 14, 2013.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 6: Practitioners as Champions

After we started the National Complete Streets Coalition, I spent a lot of time developing a series of focused fact sheets that brought together the best and most specific answers we could find on every topic related to Complete Streets. The website was soon overflowing with reports and resources on every aspect of the benefits of Complete Streets. But somehow they were never enough. They never slaked the hunger from people around the country for very specific information about how to answer a challenging question with an indisputable fact. Over time, I realized I was learning how to overcome barriers not by regurgitating facts but by hearing stories about how others had made change happen.

Completing Our Streets: Why do so many communities build incomplete streets?

incomplete-street
An incomplete street. Photo via Flickr.

This post is the second in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the forthcoming book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice. Look for the book out on October 14, 2013.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 1: Why We Build Incomplete Streets

The first chapter of Completing Our Streets outlines how the history, political standing, habits, and orientation of the transportation industry in the United States have made it difficult for any policy movement to shift the way transportation projects are planned and built. Undertaking a Complete Streets approach is a challenge because of long-standing divisions: between modes, governing structures, and people.

Completing Our Streets: Celebrating 500 Policies

This post is the first in a series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the forthcoming book from Island Press written by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice. This series will run twice monthly. Look for the book out on October 11, 2013.

Completing Our Streets coverThe passage of the 500th Complete Streets policy was a remarkable moment, especially for those of us who felt bold back in 2005 when we set the first goal for the Completing Our Streets coverNational Complete Streets Coalition: new policies in five states and twenty-five local jurisdictions, more than doubling the policies in existence at that time. Since then the Complete Streets movement has helped bring about a tremendous burst of activity in changing how roads are planned, funded, designed, and built.

The Complete Streets movement, though, is far from the first to point out that roads should be safe for everyone traveling along them, or to argue for more transportation choices. Why did the movement take off the way it did? What does this success teach us about the next steps in creating roads that are safe for all users?

Last year I stepped down from leading the Coalition to take some time to try to answer these questions. I knew that while supporters love the name, many don’t look beyond its definition as a street that is designed to be safe for everyone using it. I also knew that the movement’s success is rooted not in this simple definition, but in the strategies we have used to change transportation practice.

These strategies had little to do with defining exactly what an individual Complete Street looks like. The lack of a design focus may surprise anyone who is following the explosion of exciting new street design guidelines, manuals, books, and individual projects that are getting deserved attention in transportation circles these days.