National Complete Streets Coalition

Planning for Implementation

A conscious implementation process identifies all the systems, routines, silos, and assumptions that, together, have created the current transportation system. Communities have found it easier to understand the world of possible activities by assessing and understanding the current procedures and processes; planning for clear next steps; and establishing a person or group of people who can help guide implementation efforts within and across departments and agencies.

Successful Complete Streets implementation should include strengthening relationships between city departments; between elected officials and departments; and between citizens and transportation professionals. A first step in this process can be a Complete Streets Implementation Workshop, which brings together people from all departments with some interest in transportation, such as planning, public works/transportation, transit, parks, and health as well as key outside interests, such as concerned elected officials and engaged advocacy groups. This understanding can also come about when people from different agencies, departments, and interest groups meet as part of a committee or advisory board charged with implementing the policy.

The Complete Streets policy document itself should designate a person or committee to lead implementation. If it has not, champions should see this as a first order of business.

While most communities have centered their implementation planning on committee activities or on updating specific documents or design guidance, some communities have written formal implementation plans. Creating an implementation plan or framework can maintain the momentum picked up during policy adoption, and it can help partners who were active in policy adoption remain engaged as the focus shifts to implementation. The creation of such a plan should involve people across the transportation agency, from planners to engineers to maintenance staff, in the decision-making process. An implementation plan provides the opportunity to assess current practices, to assign responsibility for the following activities in this report, and to create estimated timelines for accomplishing those tasks. The community can use the resulting document as a tool to communicate its work with other agencies, with community leaders, and with supporters.

Possible Activities

  • Designate a lead person or “champion” to guide the process.
  • Create a committee to guide the implementation process.
    • Use an “internal” committee with representation from multiple departments within an agency and other city/state departments such as public health, planning, economic development, and transit.
    • Use an “external” committee with representation from city agencies, bicycle advocates, pedestrian advocates, older adult groups, and disability groups.
  • Task an existing committee to with this task (e.g., bicycle and pedestrian advisory council).
  • Conduct an audit of existing policies and procedures within the agency and jurisdiction that should be consistent with the Complete Streets policy. May include:
    • Procedures that do not yet consider all users of all ages and abilities as routine.
    • Current training processes.
    • Design standards and guides.
    • Current performance measures and outcomes.
  • Develop an implementation plan, which could include:
    • Designation of a person or committee responsible for implementation.
    • A timeline for updating or revising existing policies or procedures documented in the above preparation step.
    • Assigned responsibilities to specific people or departments.
    • A reporting plan to inform elected officials, public and internal stakeholders about implementation progress.
    • Report when documents listed from above are updated or revised.
  • Require annual reports that include Complete Streets progress.

Best Practices

  • Build relationships between agencies and stakeholders such as public health, law enforcement, and businesses.
  • Having a champion is invaluable; designate a lead person, agency, and/or committee that will move the process forward.
  • Formal advisory committees can be an effective catalyst for achieving other implementation steps.


Strategic & Implementation Plans



  • Sign up for eNews
  • Join the Coalition
  • Donate Today
  • Schedule a Workshop