The United States Senate is considering whether to require all states to adopt Complete Streets policies. A similar bill has already been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Locally, the city of Lawrence, in partnership with LiveWell Lawrence, hosted a public presentation about Complete Streets last September. LiveWell Lawrence’s community plan includes the goal to, “design all streets with safe access for all users: walkers, bicyclists, wheeled-device users, transit riders and drivers.”
As part of a broader goal to improve the health of the community, this LiveWell Lawrence goal is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that communities adopt Complete Streets policies in their effort to reduce obesity.
On May 5, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011 (.pdf) (H.R. 1780). The measure is designed to create safer streets for all who use them – including motorists, bus riders, pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities.
On May 24, a dozen members of the Senate, led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), introduced similar Complete Streets legislation, the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011 (S. 1056), which calls on states and metropolitan planning organizations to consider the safety, interests and convenience of all users in the design and construction of transportation projects receiving federal transportation funding.
That same day, NPR mentioned Complete Streets policies in a story about improving the design and safety of streets to meet the needs of an aging population. The NPR report cites a recent survey by AARP that finds the use of public transit by those ages 65 and over increased by 40 percent in the past decade. With the first baby boomers turning 65 this year, Lawrence’s reputation as one of the best places to retire could be supported by efforts to make roads safer for seniors.
Complete Streets policy adoption has accelerated rapidly, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition. In their recent publication, Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2010: A Story of Growing Strength (.pdf), they report that the number of communities adopting policies roughly doubled each of the last three years. In total, 249 jurisdictions (.pdf) have adopted policies or have made written commitments to do so. On April 2, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City Kansas, with the leadership of Mayor Joe Reardon, passed a Complete Streets resolution (.pdf).
To show support for the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011, an online form to write members of Congress is provided by the National Complete Streets Coalition.