Issue Brief: Complete Streets

The Issue

ASLA supports legislation that encourages designing transportation corridors to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders.

Background & Analysis

The Complete Streets movement is growing in momentum , with over 600 state and local Complete Streets policies adopted throughout the nation. A national Complete Streets policy would ensure that all our nation’s right-of-ways are safe for all users. Complete Streets policies promote the creation of more walkable and public transportation-oriented communities, thereby improving pedestrian safety, encouraging healthy and active lifestyles, helping improve air quality and helping to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Representatives Doris Matsui (CA) and David Joyce, along with Senators Mark Begich (AK) and Brian Schatz (HI), have introduced the Safe Streets Act (H.R. 2468 & S. 2004), which would require that the safety, interests and convenience of all users be considered in the design and construction of federally-funded transportation projects. This legislation would call on states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to establish a Complete Streets policy for federal transportation projects that is flexible enough to accommodate all types of projects in all locations across the country. Exemptions would be available where costs would be too prohibitive, for highways and other roads where pedestrians are not allowed, or where population, employment density, and transit service is so low that the expected users would not include pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transit users. This legislation would also call on the Secretary of Transportation to provide research, technical guidance and data collection to assist states and MPOs in developing and implementing Complete Streets policies and projects. Under the bill, the Secretary would work with the American Society of Landscape Architects, along with other allied organizations, in developing this technical assistance and guidance. The House version of this measure has garnered bipartisan support from almost 20 cosponsors.


In the 112th Congress, Complete Streets legislation was introduced in both the House of Representatives (H.R. 1780) and in the Senate (S. 1056). Both bills called on states and MPOs to establish Complete Streets policies and apply them to federally-funded projects.

During Senate Commerce Committee consideration of the surface transportation reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), a Complete Streets amendment was adopted and included in the Senate-passed version of the MAP-21 bill.   However, during the House/Senate Conference Committee negotiations, the Complete Streets language was removed from the final version of MAP-21 that was signed into law.

Current Status

H.R. 2468 was introduced on June 20, 2013 and was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on Highways and Transit where it is awaiting further action.

 S. 2004 was introduced February 6, 2014 and was referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where it is awaiting further action.


Rep. Doris Matsui (CA), Rep. David Joyce (OH) and co-sponsors

Sen. Mark Begich (AK), Sen. Brian Schatz (HI)



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