On August 14th, 2013, the National Complete Streets Coalition will mark the adoption of the country’s 500th Complete Streets policy with an event celebrating the communities across the nation that have committed to building safer, more accessible streets for all users. Please join us for a live video stream of the event’s speakers and panels. In the meantime, we invite you to get in on the conversation at our Facebook page or with the #500policies hashtag on Twitter.
The celebration will be focusing in part on Memphis, Tennessee, whose new Complete Streets measure pushed us over the 500-policy mark. Earlier this year, Mayor A.C. Wharton signed an executive order directing that new road facilities and major renovations in Memphis accommodate all users and all modes. In addition to the development of a new multimodal Street Design Guide, per the executive order, Mayor Wharton announced plans to further expand the city’s bicycle facilities, including construction of 15 miles of new protected bike lanes. This official embrace of Complete Streets is part of a remarkable, citizen-driven turnaround for a city so long built around the automobile that Bicycling magazine twice named it one of America’s worst cities for bicycling.
Remaking streets from the ground up
For years, dedicated Memphians had worked to improve conditions for walking, biking, and transit in the city, but the grassroots movement for safer, more vibrant streets most visibly coalesced a few years ago in the Broad Avenue area in east Memphis. Originally the commercial corridor for nearby railcar manufacturing, Broad Avenue had fallen into neglect by the 1990s, with only a few active businesses in a landscape of fast roads, acres of parking, endless curb cuts, and indistinguishable sidewalks–a bleak environment where nobody would walk if they could help it.