December 15, 2015 - Written by Kate Riordan
Streets are an important part of the fabric of our communities: they allow adults to get to work, kids to get to school, and people to visit neighborhood stores. Our streets should be built so that anyone, whether they’re young or old, on foot or on bike, in a car or on a bus, can move around easily and comfortably. Throughout Indiana and across the country, citizens are asking planners and engineers to “complete” the streets in their cities by making them safer, more accessible, and easier for everyone. Complete Streets are streets that are for everyone, no matter who they are or how they choose to travel.
Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages are able to safely move along and across complete streets. The elderly, individuals with disabilities, and children stand to benefit the most from complete streets. The elderly may need more time than currently allowed to cross streets. Individuals with disabilities, particularly those who use wheelchairs, need sidewalks to safely move along streets and curb ramps to access those sidewalks. Children need spaces that are completely separated from motor vehicle traffic to safely walk and bike on their own.
Complete Streets is not about special projects; it’s about changing the way we approach transportation on all streets. Changes will not occur all at once. Complete Streets is an incremental approach and changes can be made a little at a time along with routine maintenance. Complete Streets is context-sensitive, so a complete street in a downtown will look very different from a complete street in a rural setting. Finally, Complete Streets will not address all concerns, such as land use and environmental issues. It’s just one important piece in ensuring our city is safe and healthy for everyone.
Complete Street Example: Berry St.
Berry St., with bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian signal timers, is a complete street.
Complete Street Example: Calhoun St.
Complete Streets is not about specific design elements. Traffic moves slowly through downtown on Calhoun St., so even without bike lanes, many people feel comfortable riding with cars on this street. The wide sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals make Calhoun St. accessible for all.
Complete Street Example: Cook Rd.
In rural or suburban settings, a multi-use path or trail works well to accommodate both bicyclists and pedestrians.
For more information on Complete Streets, visit:
- Smart Growth America: www.smartgrowthamerica.org
- National Complete Streets Coalition: www.completestreets.org
- Health by Design: http://www.healthbydesignonline.org/IndianaCompleteStreetsCampaign.html