In October 2016, Living Streets Alliance (LSA) was awarded a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to pursue a robust and equitable Complete Streets policy in Tucson. Voices for Health Kids supports policy changes to help children grow up healthy in their communities. Complete Streets initiatives are among their priority areas to create safe, accessible, and connected neighborhoods that improve people’s quality of life.
LSA’s approach is focused on developing a Complete Streets policy in the City of Tucson, ensuring that all future road construction and reconstruction projects create a complete network that is safe and convenient for all people using all modes of transportation. LSA and community partners plan to bring a Complete Streets policy before the City of Tucson Mayor and Council in the fall of 2018. The process is guided by a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure equitable implementation. When adopted by City of Tucson Mayor & Council, it will enhance the safety, mobility, and quality of life of Tucsonans.
What are Complete Streets?
“Complete Streets” may sound like an abstract concept out of a transportation engineer’s handbook, but here in Tucson, we all know too well what an “incomplete” street looks like: We’ve experienced an incomplete street when we:
- were walking to our neighbor’s house and the sidewalk suddenly ended,
- saw someone in a wheelchair rolling in the bike lane on a busy street,
- felt frightened for our life while crossing the street to get to the store,
- waited for a half hour at a bus stop with no shelter from the hot Tucson sun,
- witnessed a car crash which left yet another Tucsonan injured or dead,
- couldn’t let our kid walk to school or a park just a few blocks from our home because of busy streets with speeding drivers,
- were terrified to barely miss hitting someone while behind the wheel.
This is all because many of our streets are not built to allow us to safely share the space for our various travel needs. Click on the image below to read more about the barriers incomplete streets create for the community:
Complete Streets is a way of designing and building our streets that focuses on creating a safe and welcoming experience for all people regardless of their age, ability, income, race, or ethnicity, whether they are walking, biking, driving, or taking public transit. This helps to ensure streets are safe and they balance the needs of people as they get around in different ways. To date, over 1100 Complete Streets policies have been adopted nationwide at the local, regional, and state levels as the first step to set the Complete Streets approach into motion.
Click on the image below to find out more about the benefits Complete Streets bring to communities:
You can also download a copy of this Complete Streets pamphlet.
What does a Complete Street look like?
There isn’t a single uniform design to create a Complete Street. Complete Streets may look very different depending on their surroundings and the local community context. A complete street may include: sidewalks, bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, shade, narrower travel lanes, street elements that encourage slower speeds, and more. All in all, the idea is to provide a reliable and connected network for whatever way people need to get around. (For example, sidewalks are continuous; they lead to safe crossing; there are curb ramps so it’s easy to get on and off the sidewalk.)
Interested in learning more? Check out this Compete Streets 101 presentation from the Complete Streets Policy Development Workshop we hosted in Tucson on September 29, 2017.
What is a Complete Streets policy?
In its simplest definition, public policy refers to the principles that guide the actions of a governmental body. Complete Streets policies are guiding documents that formalize a community’s intent to plan, design, build, and maintain streets that provide safe and convenient transportation options to get around to everyday destinations. They guide communities to consistently fund, build, and maintain the streets to serve all people using them, including people walking, bicycling, taking public transportation, and driving cars or commercial vehicles.
And here’s a presentation by Emiko Atherton, the Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, explaining how Complete Streets policies work from the same workshop we hosted here in town.
If you’re excited about making our streets safer and more welcoming for all people, please take action now and voice your support for passing a Complete Streets policy in Tucson.
Voice Your Support for Complete Streets
***POLICY ADOPTION UPDATE***
On February 5th, 2019, Tucson Mayor and Council unanimously adopted Tucson’s Complete Streets Policy. Follow this link to read our post highlighting the policy adoption and click on the image below to view or download the policy.
One of our main goals with our Complete Streets initiative was to demonstrate a different process for community engagement that is more inclusive and accessible than traditional “open house” type of outreach events. Read more about our “Rethinking Streets” Community Dialogues here:
Complete Streets Community Dialogue workshops coming to a neighborhood near you
And take a look at what kinds of things our community members wanted to see included in the Complete Streets Policy:
Here’s what we’ve heard from a diverse group of Tucsonans at our “Rethinking Streets” workshops