Complete Streets: We Can Get There from Here

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - safety/accidents, land use - planning, policy - fares, place - urban


Urban transportation policy, Traffic calming, Through highways, Thoroughfares, Thorofares, Road safety, Road design, Main roads, Highway safety, Highway planning, Highway design, Design practices, Decision making, Complete streets, Boulevards, Arterial streets, Arterial highways


Complete streets are those that are designed to be safe for all users: drivers, bicyclists, transit vehicles and passengers, and pedestrians. This article explains the complete street concept and explores ways to make urban thoroughfares more "complete." The complete streets concept focuses not only on individual roads but also on changing the decision making and design process so that all users are routinely considered during the planning, designing, construction and operation of roadways. Since complete streets require comprehensive policy and institutional change, a National Complete Streets Coalition has been developed to promote policy and procedural changes at the federal, state and local levels. Thus far, more than 50 jurisdictions have adopted some type of complete streets policy. Techniques for designing an arterial street that can control traffic speeds and permit more comfortable and safe pedestrian and bicycle access are described. These techniques involve a recognition that speed matters, redefines mobility and promotes arterial street calming measures including narrower travel lanes, road diets, tightening corner curb radii and eliminating any free-flow right-turn lanes. It is also essential that pedestrian crossing locations are made safe, comfortable and more frequent.