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Complete Streets Coalition Celebrates 500th Policy

On August 14, 2013, the National Complete Streets Coalition, of which ASLA is a steering committee member, marked the adoption of the country’s 500th complete streets policy with an event celebrating the communities across the nation that contributed to the Complete Streets movement.

At the event, speakers looked back at the communities that have committed to safe and accessible streets. The discussion included the following panel of experts:

  • Rich Weaver, Director of Planning, Policy, & Sustainability, American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
  • Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, City of Memphis, TN
  • Art Guzzetti, Vice President of Polic, APTA
  • Colleen Hawkinson, Manager, Strategic Planning Branch, DC Department of Transportation (DDOT)
  • Darren Smith, Policy Representative, National Association of Realtors
  • Jeff Miller, President & CEO, Alliance for Biking and Walking
  • Roger Millar, Director, National Complete Streets Coalition

The event speakers commemorated the city of Memphis for the 500th complete streets policy, and discussed the future direction of the complete streets movement. The full discussion can be viewed here.

Earlier this year, Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton directed that all new road facilities and major renovations accommodate all users and all modes of transportation. The complete streets measure in Memphis pushed the nation over the 500 policy mark, and for that the speakers were very pleased.

Complete streets were discussed as being valuable to everyone in the community. While the speakers were happy with the 500 policies that have been implemented so far, they noted that it is only a start. According to Darren Smith, a federal complete streets policy will be necessary since communities rely on shared infrastructure. The federal government spends a great deal of money on transportation, and in order to maximize the impact of this spending, a complete streets policy needs to be implemented.

Another topic of discussion involved the costs of implementing complete streets. According to Kyle Wagenschutz, the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the city of Memphis, complete streets don’t necessarily have to mean expensive streets. The city of Memphis was able to take advantage of low-cost opportunities in maintenance and operations to add bike lanes without adding a single line to the budget. Speakers noted that complete streets should not be seen as a major expense, but rather as tools for economic development.

The Complete Streets celebration comes a few weeks after the introduction of the bipartisan Safe Streets Act of 2013, which would require planning agencies to develop complete street policies for federally funded streets and highways. The act aims to ensure the safety of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities.

ASLA is pleased with the progress of the complete streets movement, and looks forward to working with Congress and grassroots activists to gain continued support for the Safe Streets Act. For more, check out the recent StreetsBlog article highlighting the event. 

Image credit on front: ASLA 2012 Professional General Design Honor Award. Powell Street Promenade, San Francisco. Hood Design  

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