How Complete Street Policy Is Going to Improve Your Cities

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What Is Complete Street Policy?

Complete Streets is a method of planning, designing, building, operating, and maintaining streets for everyone, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. These streets are designed with you and your safety in mind. A complete streets policy is a commitment by a community to routinely design and operate the entire right-of-way to ensure safe access for all users including older people, children, and people with disabilities. It examines all these multiple modes of transportation and users to evaluate design solutions that best meet the needs of the community.

History of Complete Street Policy

The term “Complete Streets” came into existence in late 2003. The term was created by reps from American Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists who then started the Complete Streets Task Force. The new policy was conceived to ensure the same rights and safety for all street users. 

The Importance of Complete Streets

Complete Street policies can improve communities in a variety of ways.

Streets Are Made Safer

More and more streets today are being designed for all modes of transportation. A Complete Street plan improves road safety for all users. New design trends include reduced lane width, slower speeds – calming, non-motorized connectivity to all facilities, alternative methods to traffic control (islands, bump-outs, roundabouts), and enhanced pedestrian zones and amenities.

Cities Are Less Polluted

Complete Streets are encouraging more people to travel by foot, bike, or public transit, working to lower emissions in their area. “Woonerf” shared space concepts have also become popular allowing more people to enjoy their community spaces.

Communities Are More Active

By increasing alternative modes of transportation and their connections to the community, people have further opportunities to have healthy and active lifestyles.

What Makes Streets Complete?

Since each Complete Street is unique, it is impossible to give a single description. But ingredients that may be found on a Complete Street include:

  • Sidewalks 
  • Bike lanes (or wide paved shoulders)
  • Street dieting
  • Special bus lanes
  • Comfortable and accessible transit stops
  • Frequent crossing opportunities
  • Median islands
  • Accessible pedestrian signals
  • Curb extensions
  • Improved ADA ramps
  • Amenities like street trees and lighting
  • And much more!

A Complete Street in a rural area will look quite different from a Complete Street in a highly urban area. But both are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone using the road.

How to Adopt a Complete Street Policy

Local leaders can begin the process of adopting a Complete Street policy by following these simple steps: 

  • Identify a broad set of partners: Look at how your partners connect to the communities you serve.
  • Build a coalition: Meet to discuss your goals.
  • Draft your policy: A community makes a commitment to ensure safe access for all users.
  • Determine the best policy format: Make sure your policy is binding.
  • Learn how to pass a policy: Identify the steps for passing a policy in your community.
  • Adopt your policy: Celebrate the win!

Complete Street Design

F&V employs traffic engineers and landscape architects who know what it takes to find safe and efficient movements on your roads. F&V’s engineers and landscape architects have a broad range of experience that is essential in evaluating each project and providing results – on time and on budget.

Complete Streets Design Guidelines

F&V’s designing of Complete Streets plans relies on using the accepted best management practices with guidelines to maximize design flexibility. Creating meaningful change on the ground both at the project level and in the creation of complete, multimodal transportation networks requires communities to create or update their existing design guidelines and standards to advance the objectives of the Complete Streets policy. Road design is key to truly make streets safer and accessible for all people regardless of age, race, ethnicity, ability, income, or how they choose to travel.

Why Choose F&V to Implement Complete Streets in Your City?

Hiring F&V’s experienced engineers makes all the difference when designing a Complete Streets plan for your community. We prioritize safety, cost, and then traffic volume and speed. We look at all modes of transportation and evaluate design solutions that best meet the needs of your community.   

Previous Complete Street Project

Village of Pentwater: Complete Streets Guidebook

The Village of Pentwater received a Rural Development Fund Grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) for infrastructure development ($35,000 grant, $15,000 local match). F&V provided planning and design of a Complete Street on Carrol Street from Sixth Street to Lowell Street and on Lowell Street from Carrol Street to the beach. The project provided an important corridor adjacent to the downtown business district and leading to Mears State Park, a critical tourism destination for the Village. It provided a connecting point through the Village for the planned Pentwater Hart Bicycle Trail. 

The Complete Streets Guidebook:

  • Summarized goals & objectives identified during the public meetings
  • Identified sub-zone limits and prepare renderings for each sub-zone based on best solutions from the Complete Streets Toolbox
  • Included preliminary design elements prepared in conjunction with a Village Council work session
  • Prepared preliminary design plans, cost estimates and phasing recommendations for construction of future complete streets improvements
  • Provided a draft report for the Village for adoption and future use

City of Hudsonville: Harvey Street Extension and Streetscape

The City of Hudsonville 2030 Visioning Plan includes four main principles for Hudsonville to be a distinctive, livable, vibrant, and connected city. Harvey Street streetscape and extension project, from Plaza Avenue to School Avenue, is the second project in the 2030 Visioning Plan. F&V provided design and landscape architectural services for the project.

F&V designed Harvey with a woonerf concept – a term from the Netherlands which means “shared” or “living” street that prioritizes the pedestrian experience. It is intended to transform the street from car prioritized space to a shared space for all modes of transport, including cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. 

Harvey will also be extended to the east to intersect with the Terra Square Farmers Market, which was the first project implemented in the 2030 visioning plan. It is intended for this shared use connector to offer fun seating areas, splash pad, bike racks, art, permeable paver drives, decorative stamped concrete, tree bisques, and interactive areas for people to socialize and hang out before grabbing a bite to eat or shopping at one of the shops along Harvey Street.

Safe Roads Engineering with F&V

Let F&V assist you with your Complete Streets plan. Give us a call or email to start planning now.