Tag Archives: complete streets

Completing Streets, Giving Choices

Transportation choices: it’s the slogan of the Green Transportation campaign but it’s also at the heart of what we do. Complete Streets give choices: the roads and streets safely serve the needs of all users–cars (of course), but also cyclists, pedestrians of all ages, and transit users.

Common ways of completing streets are adding crosswalks, improving sidewalks, providing bus shelters, and narrowing traffic lanes to make room for bike lanes on the road. Simple, often inexpensive interventions can make an incredible difference.

Our Transportation Associate, Kari Banta, moderated a panel on Complete Streets at the SXSW Eco conference on October 3. Joshua Houdek of the North Star Chapter and David Jurca from the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to talk about Complete Streets– how they work, making them happen, and testing them out with  a “pop up” temporary demonstration project.

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter helped get complete streets legislation adopted in Minnesota–a tremendous accomplishment–so now activists can direct attention toward getting them implemented. Minneapolis is truly transforming the way people think about getting around, as you can see in this presentation.

Making a complete street depends on who is using it. A rural highway might not need sidewalks or bus shelters, for example. The community needs to be involved in the planning process to decide what they need from their streets, working with the city planners and engineers to phase the improvements into the regular maintenance schedule. If the changes are low cost, there’s a possibility they could be done much sooner. As with many things the Sierra Club does, it takes volunteers working together to get people together and keep pushing the project forward.

Part of getting people comfortable with Complete Streets is giving them a chance to try it out for themselves. David Jurca explained Pop Up Rockwell, the project he did with graduate students to convert four blocks of Rockwall Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio to a pedestrian and biking oasis. Using paint, temporary planters, outdoor furniture, and some very clever inflatable art pieces he turned a disused and barren street into a real place.

Here’s the film they produced to explain the project–please set aside nine minutes to see how an amazing transformation is possible!

Pop Up Rockwell from KSU CUDC on Vimeo.

You can listen to the full SXSW Eco presentation, titled Life in the Streets: Reclaiming Public Space, here.


Kari Banta
Transportation Associate

Completing Texan Streets

Texas was rated #1 for best American roads in 2005 and 2006 but it seems that roads are rated on purely on automobile-centric views (i.e., Poor mileage, deficient bridges, fatalities, and congestion).  Complete Streets however takes a more holistic approach to road creation.

What are Complete Streets?

Complete Streets wants to make roads safer for all forms of transportation, revitalize economies by being more accessible, raise real-estate by providing nicer roads, and to change the psychology of the roads away automobile-centrism.  Between 2000 and 2009 47,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States or essentially 5,200 per year.  13% of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians with minorities and elderly at disproportionally high rates, but if more roads were Complete Streets that number could be greatly reduced.

So what is Texas doing?

Some Complete Streets can already be seen in the Lone Star State as San Antonio rolls out its new transportation plan that allows for a more flexible construction of roads to fit the needs of the area, is turning to more green ways to dispose of storm water, and will hopefully revitalize the area.  The actual Resolution can be found Here.

Austin has made its own strides in increasing pedestrian and cyclist accessibility with Resolution No. 020418-40.
Texas as a whole is almost keeping stride with San Antonio and Austin as TxDOT recently adopted more pedestrian friendly standards and Senate Bill 513 and House Bill 1105 are in the state legislature calling for the state to adopt even stronger “Complete Streets’” standards.  This would include amending TxDOT’s  policies to allow local authorities to have more sway in road design and construction.  Bike Texas is currently trying to get the bills passed in 2013 session, if you’re interested in helping pass the bills with Bike Texas shoot an email at advocacy@biketexas.org.  They also provide a list of representatives who voted for or against the bill on their site.

How are Complete Streets made?

Complete Streets doesn’t just advocate making new roads; fiscally it makes more sense to add in bike lanes whenever the roads are being redone or fixed.  Everything from sidewalks, to bike lanes, to turning lanes can be added to make a street more complete.  If you want to get involved you can plug in to complete streets directly, lobby your city council to pass a complete streets resolution as San Antonio and Austin have done, or even partake in “guerilla-complete streets as “Better-Block Project” did in Dallas in the videos below.

Want to know more information?  Below are some cool links!

Complete Streets Slideshow Presentation

San Antonio Ordnance for CS

San Antonio – Complete Streets Article

Unfunded Mandate or Sound Economic Principal

Previous TGR Blog Post

-Keegan Taylor,  Beyond Coal Intern

Sometimes Good Transportation Means Not Moving

Here’s a little Friday fun: Imagine a bridge over a river. What comes to mind? Guard rails, lanes for cars. Maybe a walkway for pedestrians and a bike lane if you’re lucky. Anything else?

Did you imagine a bridge as a place to play chess or enjoy a cup of coffee or just watch traffic go by. No?

The bridge on Cedar Crest Boulevard over the Trinity River in Dallas has the potential to be this place. In fact, for one day, it actually was. On October 22, 2011, the bridge was converted to two lanes from four. Planters divided the car lanes from two bike lanes and a pedestrian esplanade complete with tables, chairs, and chess boards.

What difference does a day make? Plenty, as it turns out. This coordinated effort by Team Better Block and the City of Dallas was a proof of concept for Option D of the renovation plan under consideration by the city as part of the Trinity River Project. In plain English, they did it to see if it would work–and it did! Fingers crossed that they get the support to implement the plan.