Adopt a Complete Streets Policy

While traditional traffic engineering designs streets primarily for vehicles, a Complete Streets policy directs transportation planners and engineers to design and operate rights-of-way for safe access for everyone on the street, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation.

  • Build a Complete Streets coalition with transportation planners and engineers, public health professionals, public officials, and walking and cycling advocates and experts
  • The National Complete Streets Coalition specifies that a Complete Streets policy should include the following:
    • A vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets
    • The definition that “all users” refers to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses, and automobiles
    • The specification the policy applies to new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right-of-way
    • Clear procedures for any exceptions
    • The goal to create a connected network for all modes
    • Reference to progressive design guidelines
    • Context-sensitive design procedures and solutions
    • Performance standards with measurable outcomes
    • Next steps for policy implementation
  • Creates a street network that is better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists
  • Creates a cost-effective way to improve safety and accessibility for everyone using the roads
  • Helps the vitality of town centers by allowing everyone, whether on foot, bike, or public transportation, to reach community hubs and businesses
  • Creates safer routes for children to reach school and activities, giving them more opportunities to exercise and gain selfconfidence
  • Encourages walking and active lifestyles among residents of all ages and abilities
  • Helps reduce congestion
  • Helps reduce risk to pedestrians
  • Helps reduce carbon emissions
  • Coordinating among the multiple jurisdictions responsible for the street network and streetscape design
  • Ensuring the policy will be effectively implemented and enforced in practice
  • Finding funding for the planning and implementation of the policy
Where to Use It
  • Countries, states, counties, cities, towns
  • Metropolitan planning organizations and regional planning commissions
Professional Consensus
  • Endorsed by the American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The Complete Streets: Best Policy and Implementation Practices guide evolved from collaboration between the American Planning Association, the National Complete Streets Coalition, and the National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity, with funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Association of Realtors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the Ruth Mott Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Endorsed by AARP, with additional guidance in its Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America report

More than 300 different types of Complete Streets policies have been adopted by states, counties, and cities, including:

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.