05. 17. 2021
9 min read

Advocating for Complete Streets

Join the movement for making our streets better for everyone

We talk a lot about the benefits of walking over using a car, but the fact of the matter is, having that choice is a luxury not afforded to everyone. For a lot of people, doing their daily living by car is the only option. 

Because our cities and transportation infrastructures are built around cars and cars alone, the safety and accessibility of our streets aren’t prioritized, rendering alternative modes of transportation—like walking or biking—extremely dangerous or impossible altogether. But there’s good news. The U.S. Department of Transportation has recognized that this car-centric system isn’t sustainable or equitable and it needs to be re-evaluated. They’ve been developing and implementing new strategies and programs to help communities make their streets accessible to all of their residents, however they choose, or need, to get around.

The one we’re most excited about is the Complete Streets Act of 2021. This bill lays out a plan for a federal solution to America’s unsafe, unhealthy, and unsustainable transportation systems by creating safer, or what they call “Complete Streets.” 

What are Complete Streets?

Complete Streets are streets for everyone:

  • They provide safe and accessible options for all travel modes—walking, biking, transit, and vehicles—for people of all ages and abilities. 

  • They make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, jobs, and schools, bicycle to work, and move actively with assistive devices like gita. 

  • They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk or move actively to and from train stations.

What happens when a community adopts a Complete Streets Policy?

They direct their transportation planners and engineers to design in a way that prioritizes safer, slower speeds for all people who use the road, over high speeds for motor vehicles. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for people walking, biking, driving, riding public transit, and moving actively with assistive devices like gita—making your town a better place to live.

But does it really work?

Yes! And there’s proof. The federal Complete Streets Act is modeled on an incredibly successful landmark law that was initiated in Massachusetts (which just so happens to be Piaggio Fast Forward’s home state) in 2016. 

What began as a state-level incentive program has grown into a locally-driven force for positive change. Municipalities across the Commonwealth have not only adopted policies, prioritization plans, and projects that advance Complete Streets in their communities, but have changed the way departments interact, decisions are made, and resources are allocated at all levels of government. These changes have created the foundations for making the Complete Streets approach sustainable in Massachusetts. -MassDOT 

Let’s encourage our lawmakers to get this federal bill passed and help more of our communities embrace the many benefits of walkable living. Visit the Smart Growth America site to send a message to your Congressional representative urging them to support this legislation.

We also must make sure smaller communities have access to the ideas and opportunities of the larger ones. ‘Complete Streets’ is a prime example for the benefits of applying those principles to smaller communities as well. There is a lot of promise there. -USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg 


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