Complete streets at the municipal level: A review of American municipal Complete Street Policy

The Complete Streets Act of 2009 preceded a proliferation of municipal level complete streets policies across United States. These policies aim to challenge auto-centric street design standards in favor of “complete streets” that are safe for users of all abilities. This proliferation of “complete streets” policy is noteworthy progress in addressing the needs of non-motorized street users and sustainable transportation. However, research that critically and systematically analyzes the specific content of the policies and how they attempt to guide street design decision-making is limited. The authors address this gap through a review of municipal level Complete Street policy. The authors sampled a total of 113 municipal level complete streets policies drawn from The National Complete Streets Coalition’s database. The authors reviewed the policies to inventory their qualitative content, probe their definitions, and understand their implications for design and implementation. The authors conclude that most municipal Complete Street policies do not guide the negotiation of tradeoff between users within the street right-of-way. The policies are broad and defer to idealistic goals of safely accommodating all user types equally without recognizing the implicit hierarchy of accommodation. This study is limited to analyzing the content of the policies alone; the authors argue this is a necessary first step in critically thinking through Complete Street policy development and examining if current municipal policies are able to successfully challenge the primary accommodation of automobility. Without a critical analysis, there is a risk of replicating policy that is ineffective at achieving the core goals outlined by the Complete Streets concept.


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  • Accession Number: 01704946
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 24 2019 3:00PM