Many governments in our region are leading the way on using complete streets laws and policies to ensure roads are designed for everyone who uses them. According to the National Complete Streets Coalition’s new report, Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2010: A Story of Growing Strength:
- Connecticut’s complete streets law is the second strongest state complete streets law in the country.
- New York City’s Sustainable Streets Strategic Plan is the strongest city plan.
- New Haven’s Complete Streets Design Manual is the strongest design guidance from any city, with NYC’s Street Design Manual the third-strongest.
- New Jersey DOT’s 2009 complete streets policy is the strongest of all internal state DOT policies.
Connecticut’s law got high marks because of its strong intent and use of direct language like “accommodations for all users shall be a routine part… of all [roads]”; its application to both state and local roads; its application to reconstruction, repair, and maintenance of roads as well as new construction; and its inclusion of language saying roads should be designed for people of “all ages” and “all abilities,” as well as walkers, cyclists, transit riders, and other road users.
New Jersey DOT’s policy also got points for including road users of all ages and abilities, and for applying to repair and maintenance of roads. In addition, the coalition praised it for including language that emphasizes connectivity of the transportation network and context-sensitive design.
Notably missing from this impressive list: New York State, which has neither a statewide complete streets law (though support for one continues to grow) nor an internal DOT policy.
The report authors point out that their report “is based purely on what has been written on paper” and does not reflect how well a state or community actually implements its laws and policies, making it critical that local advocates play a watchdog role.
The authors also reflect on the remarkable growth of interest in complete streets across the country. At the start of the previous decade, only a handful of complete streets laws and policies existed. Today, 23 states and over 200 local governments and regional agencies have passed them. More than 70 of those were enacted last year.