What facilitates the transition from a policy into tangible street designs? To bring a Complete Streets policy to life, engineers need to know how to design these streets in very clear, concrete terms. The best Complete Streets policies will adopt excellent street design guidance that directs and supports practitioners to create an accessible and complete network of streets.
A Complete Streets policy cannot be implemented without an understanding of how to improve the physical environment. Jurisdictions should prioritize appropriate design guidance into their policy and implementation plans. The way roads are designed can influence traffic speed, safety, comfort, and many other factors that affect all people who use the street. We’ve updated this policy element to require jurisdictions to adopt or design guidelines in addition to adopting a policy.
(Image courtesy of Alta Planning + Design)
Successful implementation of Complete Streets requires much more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Rural and small towns often face distinct challenges from urban areas when it comes to improving the conditions for people walking and bicycling. The National Complete Streets Coalition recently spoke with Andrea Clinkscales, Senior Planner at Alta, to learn about some of the obstacles smaller communities may face, along with potential solutions to implementing Complete Streets.
Crossposted from Transportation for America.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) took an encouraging and surprising step this week to make it dramatically easier for cities and communities of all sizes to design and build complete streets that are safer for everyone by easing federally-mandated design standards on many roads.
Currently, FHWA has a long list of design criteria that local communities and states must adhere to when building or reconstructing certain roads, unless they choose to go through an arduous process of requesting an exception to do things like line a downtown street with street trees, reduce the width of lanes to add a bike lane, or curve a street slightly to slow traffic and make it safer for people in cars and on foot.
In this new proposed rule, FHWA decided after a thorough review to scrap 11 of 13 current design criteria for certain roads because they decided these criteria have “minimal influence on the safety or operation on our urban streets” and has a stronger connection for rural roads, freeways and higher speed urban arterials.
VTrans, in partnership with Smart Growth America, has unveiled a work program for revising the Vermont State Standards, which provide VTrans staff and other partners with direction in designing roadway transportation projects.
The Model Design Manual for Living Streets is a new and important resource for communities looking to implement their Complete Streets policy. Reflecting national best practices in multimodal street design and environmental sustainability, it should be a tool in any city’s toolbox.
Taking your Complete Streets policy from paper to practice? Read on for information on upcoming webinars that will help your community better plan and design streets for all users.
Nadine Lemmon, of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, writes how transportation professionals are applying the Complete Streets approach to the unique challenges of rural roads and recommending new design guidance to promote safer rural roads for all users.
In just the last nine months, 45 communities have adopted Complete Streets policies – just two shy of the record number of policies adopted in all of 2009. The sheer number of localities realizing the benefits of Complete Streets is inspiring, but it’s becoming more difficult to track. Help out by sharing your successes with us!