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Policy Statement 537 - Complete Streets

 
Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on February 13, 2020 
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 11, 2020
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 11, 2020

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports Complete Streets policies that integrate the safety, needs, and convenience of all users - drivers, transit users, bicyclists,  and pedestrians of all ages and abilities -in the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of transportation networks. Complete Streets should integrate green infrastructure, such as street trees and best management practices for collecting stormwater runoff.  ASCE believes that America's transportation system should be planned, designed, built, operated, and maintained in a sustainable manner for safe travel by everyone.

Issue

Millions of Americans are walking, bicycling, and riding public transportation along roads that were designed only for the motor vehicle and not originally designed to accommodate all users. This can make our streets less safe for non-motorists and encourages more people to drive to meet their needs. 

Our transportation system should provide for the 16% of Americans who do not drive. Without walking, biking, or transit choices they have limited opportunities for 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.  

Rationale

Updating transportation system development and renewal to incorporate Complete Streets policies will cause our transportation system to considers the needs of people on foot, public transportation, and bicycles providing improved safety and accessibility for walking, riding bikes, and riding transit. People of all ages and abilities will have more options when traveling to work, to school, to the grocery store, and to visit family.

When properly implemented Complete Streets improves safety for all users. A DOT 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 pedestrian 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 Research and Development street design guidance.  

The 2017 National Household Travel Survey found 45% of all trips in the United States are three miles or less and 21% of all trips are one mile or less - distances easy to walk, bike, or ride a bus or train. Yet, 83% of the shortest trips are now made by automobile. In part, this is because streets may, in some cases, create inconvenient barriers and safety concerns for other modes of travel.

Complete Streets foster strong communities. Complete Streets play an important role in livable communities, where all people - regardless of age, ability or mode of transportation - feel safe and welcome on the roadways. A safe walking and bicycling environment is an essential part of improving public transportation and creating friendly, walkable communities.

ASCE Policy Statement 537
First Approved in 2011


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