The components of a complete street — sidewalks,
crosswalks, curb extensions, median islands, narrower
lanes, wider shoulders, lower speed limits and other
measures — can vary from location to location, but
the goal is always the same: to make all travel choices
safer and easier.
A complete street policy is most effective when it applies
to all projects whether new construction or ongoing
maintenance. Even the smallest projects offer opportunities for incremental improvement such as adding time
to the walk signal during routine work on traffic lights or
completing a gap in a sidewalk when resurfacing a street.
“It really does come down to the details if you’re looking at improving the pedestrian system so people walk
as part of their day-to-day life,” Ricklin says. “One of
the best ways to think about all this is to think about
the most vulnerable among us — children, older adults,
disabled folks. If we’ve made it safe and accessible for
them, we’ve made it safe and accessible for everybody.”
Giving people reasons to walk in their day-to-day life is
important, too. Strong transit systems play a critical role
in the public health/active transportation dynamic by
converting commutes into workouts. People can build 20
minutes of physical activity into their day just by walking to and from the bus or train, Bricker says.
“We’re not talking about cut abs and beach bodies, but
we are talking about incredible health outcomes,” he says.
The opportunity to realize those outcomes is lost in many
cases, though, because there are too few transit stops, no
sidewalks leading to stops, no crossings near stops and
other infrastructure shortcomings.
The problem is that many of those elements fall between
cracks in jurisdiction that confine transit to one planning silo and pedestrian improvements to another,
“An important area of improvement for us (is to
create) tighter connections between transit and
departments of transportation in ensuring safe and
accessible transit stops so you don’t have to take your
life in your own hands every time you get on and off
a bus,” he says.
Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer
specializing in business and development issues.
His work appears regularly in the Puget Sound
Business Journal and the Seattle Daily Journal
Photo by Pam Broviak
Photo by Eric Fredericks
Photo by Gary Howe