Complete Streets

Adopt and implement transportation policies that make streets accessible and safe for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.

Summary

Complete Streets enable safe travel for people of all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation, including bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists and transit riders. When a community adopts a Complete Streets policy, they ensure that their engineers and transportation planners routinely design and operate transportation projects to enable safe access for all users.

Complete Streets can look different in every community and may include things like sidewalk additions or improvements, traffic calming, safe crossing opportunities, bike lane additions, curb extensions, and bus lanes.

Wisconsin Examples

La Crosse County Complete Streets: This community-based initiative led to the adoption of a Complete Streets policy in La Crosse County, WI.

Brown County Active Community Workgroup: This community-based coalition of regional and city stakeholders in Green Bay, WI developed and implemented a bike and pedestrian plan and a Complete Streets policy.

Equity in Practice

Recognizing Inequity: Rural and low-income communities and communities of color are less likely to have a policy in place; if there is a policy, it may not be put into practice. If not carefully designed, complete streets policies may also neglect the needs of older adults, people with disabilities, and children.

Advancing Equity: To ensure that complete streets policies benefit those with the greatest needs, underserved groups must be included in the policy planning process. This includes building relationships with agencies and organizations that serve these groups, creating community coalitions to drive complete streets efforts, and collecting data to identify community needs.

Implementation Resources

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Active Community Toolkit: This toolkit walks communities through the many aspects of an active community initiative, from planning to evaluation.

Wisconsin Active Communities Alliance: WACA is an alliance of local Wisconsin coalitions that collaborates with local and state stakeholders on strategies to create active communities in Wisconsin.

Smart Growth America National Complete Streets Coalition: This page provides a number of Complete Streets resources, including policy development, implementation, technical assistance, and examples.

Smart Growth America Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook: This guide uses best practices from around the country to help develop tailored policies for communities.

ChangeLab Solutions Complete Streets Resources: This site offers multiple resources on Complete Streets, including a guide to building healthy streets and a model Complete Streets resolution for local governments.

National Association of City Transportation Officials Urban Street Design Guide: This book contains design guidelines, strategies and best practices for planners, engineers, and designers to make streets safer, more livable, and more economically vibrant.

Assessment Tools

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Active Community Toolkit: The Active Community toolkit has a number of questions that can be used to assess parts of Complete Streets initiatives. It looks at aspects of the community environment and whether a policy is in place.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Community Walking and Bicycling Audit Tool: This tool assesses various aspects of the built environment and neighborhood streets, including components related to Complete Streets initiatives. The tool does not assess policy.

EPA Walkability Checklist: This is a useful, easy-to-use neighborhood walkability checklist that can be done with adults or youth.

Active Living Research Rural Active Living Assessment Tool: This tool is for assessing physical features, community programs and policies that promote physical activity in rural communities. It is relatively comprehensive and requires time, resources, and some understanding of planning and zoning. The tool used for an entire municipality rather than a neighborhood.

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