Complete streets are roads designed and operated with all users in mind- including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.
A Safe and Complete Streets Policy and Checklist at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (SRTC is the MPO for the area encompassed by Spokane County) level will have a region-wide impact in changing the decision-making process so that all users are routinely considered during the planning, designing, building and operating of roadways.
It will also ensure that elements of the Safe and Complete Streets policy are incorporated into the 2013 Metropolitan Transportation Plan update, Horizon 2040,underway now.
The checklist that goes along with the policy will mean that any project seeking to be included in the annual Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) will have to be evaluated to see if it meets the Policy guidelines or is exempt.
Also, SRTC does occasional "calls for projects" when there is transportation funding available. Local jurisdictions are invited to submit projects they would like to see funded. The projects are ranked and prioritized and the ones determined to be top priorities are given money. From now on, any project submitted during a call for projects will have to be accompanied by the checklist to show that the needs of all users have been considered when designing the project.
The journey toward a Complete Streets Policy has been a lengthy one. SRTC joined with several local agencies and groups to form the Education Coalition for Safe & Complete Streets several years ago. In addition to SRTC, representatives on the Coalition include from Futurewise, Neighborhood Alliance, City of Spokane, The Lands Council, Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane Transit, Spokane County Commute Trip Reduction, Spokane Plan Commissioner Gail Prosser, YMCA of the Inland Northwest, Community Assembly, Bicycle Advisory Board and Spokane County.
Creating complete streets means transportation agencies such as SRTC and others must change our approach to community roads. Some features of complete streets that may be included when designing local transportation projects include:
Crosswalks Sidewalks Lighting Median islands Pedestrian signals Street trees Bike facilities Transit stop enhancements Well-placed crossing opportunities Congestion relief measures Separated sidewalks
Information on the National Complete Streets Coalition is available at http://www.completestreets.org.