Weekly News – Fueling the Movement

Our fantastic interns, Ryan Whitney and Eryn Rosenblum, helped write this week’s post.

Photo: Dan Burden/WalkableCommunities.org
Photo: Dan Burden/Walkable Communities

Despite the impending winter, the complete streets movement is at an all-time high. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand became the twelfth cosponsor on the Complete Streets Act of 2009, and Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison became the forty-third cosponsor of the House bill. Early last week, the EPA awarded Charlotte, NC’s complete streets policy with the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in Policies and Regulations. State and local advocates, elected officials, and transportation professionals continue to push for and create complete streets in communities across the country (see below for the latest).

The continued success of our movement is thanks to the many members and supporter of the National Complete Streets Coalition. I’m proud to say our yearly donation campaign is off to a great start, helping us continue and build on our successes in 2010. We’re looking to raise $5,000 by December 31 – can you help?

Communities around the country continue to respond to Dangerous by Design and the national epidemic of preventable pedestrian deaths. TIME Magazine recently covered the report and highlighted the dismal conditions in Florida, home to the four most dangerous metro areas in the country for pedestrians. Floridians, however, are starting to take action: in Southwest Florida, for example, cities like St. Petersburg and Punta Gorda have started repairing their streets to make them more accessible for walkers and bicyclists, and Lee County just passed a resolution in support of complete streets. In New Jersey, where pedestrians represent nearly 20 percent of traffic deaths, a recent article argues that pushing for complete streets “is not asking too much in the name of public safety. North Jersey is one of the most densely populated parts of the country. But just because it’s crowded doesn’t mean it cannot also be made safe: Safe for those who drive, and safe for those who walk.”

These articles, from prominent publications like TIME as well as local newspapers across the country, continue the positive trend of highlighting a key point of the report: that many of our roads truly are dangerous by design. The finding in these stories is that the fault does not lie with walkers, bicyclists, wheelchair users or other non-drivers who expect to be safe in their own communities. Rather, the problem lies in designing and planning roads that neglect the needs and abilities of real people in favor of cars alone.

And now a roundup of recent state and local activity that fuels our movement:

Topeka, KS: City Council adopted a resolution to follow complete streets principles in new construction or reconstruction. Local advocates played a key role in the development and passage of this policy, holding a complete streets workshop and a public rally a few months ago. Topeka is the first jurisdiction in Kansas to adopt some form of a complete streets policy, and the 38th to do so this year. (WIBW)

Bakersfield, CA: Bike Bakersfield’s Robert Smith cited California’s Complete Streets law as impetus for the city to shift from auto-centric street design to a model that considers all users, including low-income individuals. Street design is a hot topic in the city after the Dangerous by Design report from Transportation for America ranked Bakersfield as the worst in the state for pedestrian injury and death from automobiles. (Bakersfield Californian)

San Francisco, CA: The City has quickly acted upon the partial lifting of an injunction that limited roll-out of its visionary bike plan, laying the first bike lane in 3 years, installing the city’s first separated bike lane, painting a green bike box, and adding sharrows along several routes. (Streetsblog San Francisco)

Manistique, MI: A walkability audit, conducted by the Strategic Alliance for Health Coalition and walkability expert Dan Burden, has generated interest in developing a Complete Streets policy to  encourage active forms of transportation. (Daily Press)

Texas: The Texas DOT became the first state DOT to adopt the Manual for Walkable Urban Thoroughfares as an accepted roadway design criteria for the state, a major step forward in creating streets for people and the latest in a national move toward better streets. (Citiwire)

Dallas, TX: Recognizing the current paradigm shift occurring to ‘’humanize” our cities, Russ Skies of the Congress for the New Urbanism highlighted the recent completion of the Main Street Garden in Dallas as a step in the right direction. He recommends the use of Complete Streets and other practices as inexpensive tools to further transform our cities in to places and spaces that are safe for all users, not just drivers. (Dallas Morning News)

Washington: The Transportation Choices Coalition plans to expand its complete streets efforts next year by campaigning for state-level complete streets legislation. (Seattle Transit Blog)

Spokane, WA: New council member Jon Snyder spoke to the Pacific Northwest Inlander about his transportation goals for the city, including a complete streets policy. “It costs the city money not having this complete streets policy,” he said. A local coalition of advocates are working to develop a policy campaign.

Complete Streets