Complete Streets Policy
For the past 50 years, street design has concentrated on cars at the expense of sidewalks, street crossings and dedicated bike lanes. In many places they have fallen into disrepair or been excluded entirely, creating an environment in which bicycling and walking has become exceedingly difficult or dangerous. A transportation system focused on motorized travel limits choice, access and mobility.
An auto-dependent transportation system ignores the needs of populations that do not have access to vehicles. The 2000 Census indicated that 8.5 percent of households in the Tri-County region did not own a vehicle. Additionally, those under 16 years old, the elderly, the disabled and those who prefer not to commute by car equally affected by an auto-dependent system. Finally, people taking auto or transit trips need to use sidewalks to get from their bus stop or parking lot to the final terminus of their trip.
Another consideration for providing adequate bike/pedestrian facilities in street design is to improve system safety. Bicyclists and pedestrians account for a larger percentage of roadway fatalities than they do mode share[i]. “Desire paths” (unofficial paths signified by continuous use) often run along busy arterials and require road crossings without adequate provisions.
Complete Streets policies can take many forms. The National Complete Streets Coalition has found that most Complete Streets Policies are adopted at the municipal level and consist of a framework for decision makers, passed by resolution, to incorporate considerations for all users of the transportation network when making land use, development or public infrastructure decisions. The attached Model Complete Streets Resolution was developed by Tri-County staff and reflects local concerns and issues. However, the Complete Street philosophy has been used to guide bike/pedestrian facility plans, ordinance and other regulation as well as technical design manuals.
Municipalities can also promote Complete Street elements through their dealing with the Harrisburg Area Transportation Study (HATS). The HATS MPO programs Federal and State funds for transportation projects of regional significance. It is USDOT and PennDOT policy to accommodate all transportation modes in projects where feasible. Municipalities should coordinate with MPO staff to ensure that this occurs during project development for their area.
- Promotes pedestrian and bicyclist safety
- Promotes non-auto travel
- Provides transportation choice, especially for those without auto access
- Costs less to include bike/pedestrian facilities during construction than to retrofit in the future
- Increased project costs
- Maintenance and liability issues for projects along state or federal roads
- Potential for less flexibility in project design
- Solicit feedback from various stake holders during the formulation process. This should include bike/pedestrian/trail groups, advocates for the elderly, school district officials, etc.
- Identify practical points of implementation for the policy. For example: does the S&LDO need to be revisited? How will the Capital Improvement Plan need to be adjusted?
- Coordinate with your MPO or RPO to ensure that non-municipal projects in the area follow Complete Streets goals.
- American Planning Association Complete Streets Best Practices
- TCRPC Model Policy Statement
- National Complete Streets Coalition
[i] “Complete the Streets: Introduction to Complete Streets” Presentation