Planner’s Portfolio: Complete Streets

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The third issue in the Planner’s Portfolio series focuses on defining the elements that comprise Complete Streets.

A Complete Street is a multimodal transportation policy that aims to accommodate all users on roadways, whether those users are driving, bicycling, walking, or taking public transportation. This is accomplished by prioritizing the design and planning processes for providing transportation infrastructure such as enhanced crosswalks and sidewalks, bike lanes, streetscaping and furniture, and appropriately sized roads in ways that optimize accessibility and mobility instead of building infrastructure that supports a singular mode. Complete Streets have proven to increase safety, reduce congestion, enhance and revitalize communities, and provide additional transportation options for communities nationwide.

A common misconception for Complete Streets is the idea that every element must be present in order for a roadway to classify as such. To the contrary, while similar elements are present in many of the Complete Streets examples found nationwide, it is the expected levels of activity on specific roadways that determine what the minimum standards for a Complete Street are in various neighborhoods.

For example, a Central Place with wide sidewalks, curb extensions, embellished crosswalks, and on-street parking would not be appropriate in a Growing Suburb consisting of less dense collector and arterial streets. Here, the provision of sidewalks, enhanced crosswalks, and pedestrian refuge islands are several of the most important Complete Streets components suitable for a Growing Suburb street typology which are typically wider roadways with generally lower levels of bicycle and pedestrian activity than a Central Place.

This portfolio provides great local examples of Complete Streets in various community and neighborhood types. For more information, check out the Complete Streets issue or the entire Planner’s Portfolio series.

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