Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on February 22, 2023
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on April 19, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the implementation of US Department of Transportation Complete Streets policies that integrate the safety and accessibility of all users in the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of transportation networks. Complete Streets should integrate best management practices for incorporating landscaping amenities. ASCE believes that America’s transportation system should be planned, designed, built, operated, and maintained in a sustainable manner for safe travel by all users.
Millions of Americans are walking, bicycling, and riding public transportation along roads for the motor vehicle and not originally designed to accommodate other users. This can make our streets less safe for non-motorists and encourage more people to drive to meet their needs.
Our transportation system should provide access for all users. Without walking, biking, or transit choices, they have limited opportunities for mobility. It is important to incorporate Complete Streets planning as there is more emphasis being placed on first mile/last-mile connections to improve user mobility.
While it is important that our roadways safely and adequately accommodate motor vehicle demands, including the movement of freight and emergency vehicles, roadway systems designed only for motor vehicles can hinder the development of walkable and livable communities. These streets deter people who might choose to drive less and avoid the cost of operating a motor vehicle if safe and comfortable alternatives were available.
Our transportation system should accommodate the needs of all users by providing improved safety and accessibility for all modes. People of all ages and abilities should have safe and accessible options when traveling.
When properly implemented, Complete Streets improves safety for all users. A USDOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) safety review found that streets designed with features, such as sidewalks, raised medians, better bus stop placement, and traffic-calming measures, can improve safety. This policy recommendation was first evaluated as a transportation design concept after World War II and has been supported in numerous documents and organizations including FHWA’s street design guidance.
A study for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found 52% of all 2021 trips for all modes of transportation in the United States are less than three miles and 28% of all trips are less than one mile — distances easy to walk, bike, or ride a bus or train. Only 2% of trips are greater than 50 miles. In part, this is because streets may, in some cases, create inconvenient barriers and safety concerns for other modes of travel.
Complete Streets play an important role in strong, livable communities for all users. A safe active transportation environment is an essential part of improving public and private transportation and creating friendly, walkable communities. Knowing the demands placed on the existing street right-of-way, civil engineers are encouraged to work together with public policymakers, planners, and traffic management professionals to accomplish Complete Streets.
ASCE Policy Statement 537
First Approved in 2011