Two New York communities brought home the highest rankings in the nation for their efforts to make streets safer and more accessible. Just three years after passage of a statewide law on Complete Streets, Ogdensburg and Troy are being recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition as the nation’s best.
The National Complete Streets Coalition today released The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014, which reviews every policy passed in the United States in 2014 and scores each according to the ten elements of an ideal Complete Streets policy.
Ogdensburg, located on the northern border of the state and home to 11,000 people, had the highest-scoring policy with 92.8 points out of 100. Troy, located just across the Hudson from Albany and home to 50,000 people, had the second-highest score with 91.2 points.
Josh Wilson, executive director of New York Bicycling Coalition (and former Ogdensburg resident) is proud of his former home. “What makes this policy particularly effective is that it allows for the establishment of a resident task force which will review all new public and private construction projects with an aim at incorporating improvements to pedestrian and bicycle access. Giving concerned citizens a voice in the project planning process is absolutely crucial.”
The New York State Department of Health also deserves kudos for the high-scoring policies. Their Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play program helped to fund the public health contractors that guided Complete Streets policy adoption in both municipalities (St. Lawrence County Health Initiative and Capital District Community Gardens, now Capital Roots).
The report pointed out a number of encouraging trends happening across the country:
- In 2014, more than 70 jurisdictions adopted new policies, amounting to 712 policies in place nationwide. New Jersey led the pack with 22 jurisdictions adopting policies in 2014, retaining its position as the state with the most local Complete Streets policies (118, compared to New York’s 53 and Connecticut’s three).
- While 11 of the 15 most populous cities in the country have adopted policies, small towns are picking up momentum as well—39 percent of municipal policies are in suburban communities with less than 30,000 residents and nearly 20 percent of total policies are in small towns.
- The strength of new policies is improving, with median scores going up—the median was 51.6 in 2013; now it is 62. Seventy-one percent of policies in 2014 named at least one implementation step or required regular public reporting on progress, and 16 percent of all new policies were adopted as legislation rather than as a simple resolution.
While the national recognition is great news, street safety issues continue to plague communities across New York State, where pedestrians and bicyclists account for 29 percent of roadway fatalities—14 percent higher than the national average, and 2 percent higher than just a few years ago.