Every street can be a Complete Street

Chicago bike lanePhoto credit: Chicago Bicycle Program via Flickr

The National Complete Streets Coalition, working with the Active Transportation Alliance, spent a day this week with workshop participants near Chicago dispelling myths and preconceived notions about Complete Streets by demonstrating how every street can be a Complete Street. By learning how to recognize the range of opportunities to take a complete streets approach, community leaders can fundamentally transform their streets, and ultimately their community.

chicago complete streets workshopParticipants in the workshop at Prairie State College, located just south of Chicago in Chicago Heights, Illinois, included representatives from the Cook County Department of Public Health, a select number of south suburban Chicago cities and villages, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning, and the National and Chicago Associations of Realtors.

Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, began the one-day workshop by establishing a better understanding among community stakeholders of ways to balance the needs of all users.

“It’s about culture change — we need to gain and use the vocabulary to engage stakeholders from all walks of life effectively,” said Emiko.

Throughout the day, questions arose about how to take Complete Streets policies into practice and see projects successfully go from idea to implementation. Participants wanted to know how to work with engineers and how to fund these improvements. Through the use of real-world examples, the Active Transportation Alliance and the National Complete Streets Coalition walked participants through tactics that can make pop-up Complete Streets demonstration projects more permanent. The instructors highlighted opportunities presented by street maintenance projects to incorporate Complete Streets changes such as bicycle, pedestrian, and transit access treatments.

“You can probably do a lot with the money that you already have,” said Emiko.

Participants were guided through actionable steps of Complete Streets implementation, from concrete tactics for identifying strategic allies and recognizing Complete Streets improvement opportunities in different contexts, to new resources for active transportation design and funding mechanisms.

This Complete Streets implementation workshop is made possible by Smart Growth America’s Technical Assistance program. Find more information on how this program can teach your state and local agencies to balance the needs of all users and implement effective Complete Streets policies and procedures, by visiting our Technical Assistance webpage.

Want to learn more about Complete Streets? Join the National Complete Streets Coalition at Street Lights: Illuminating Implementation and Equity in Complete Streets, our first-ever Complete Streets conference, taking place on November 15, 2016 in Sacramento, CA. This day-long conference will be a chance for transportation planners and engineers, community, equity, and health advocates, local officials, and Complete Streets practitioners to share ideas, brainstorm solutions, and celebrate the success of the Complete Streets movement nationwide together.

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