The last frontier: Complete Streets in Alaska
This multi-use sidepath in Anchorage, AK is maintained and used for transportation year-round. Photo courtesy of Lori Schanche, Anchorage Department of Public Works.
Last month, Senator Mark Begich of Alaska introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2014 (S. 2004), which requires states and regions to adopt Complete Streets policies for federally funded transportation projects.
Why would a Senator from the nation’s coldest state introduce legislation that supports walking, biking and transit? Complete Streets strategies aren’t just for big cities or warm climates. Smaller cities and towns across the country are embracing Complete Streets, with policies now in place in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
In Alaska, communities as far north as Fairbanks and North Pole are putting Complete Streets principles to work as more and more residents get around without getting in the car. And these efforts are paying off. The state ranks highest in the U.S. in the percentage of walking and biking commutes and in per capita funding for non-motorized transportation, and third-lowest in fatality rate among walkers and bicyclists.
A new implementation brief about Complete Streets in Alaska has even more information about the strategies being used by this snowy state. Here are some highlights from the brief.