Complete Streets is a term used for policies, planning, and design approaches to transportation that are intentional and enable safe, convenient travel for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation (e.g., drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation riders).
On September 16, 2019, City Council approved Resolution R-62-19 establishing a Complete Streets Policy for the City. The Resolution required that the Department of Planning and Community Development create an implementation plan within six months of its effective date. R-62-19 stated specific purposes intended to be included in a Complete Streets Implementation Plan and set forth the following principles:
- A comprehensive surface transportation network includes roadways, trails, shared-use paths, sidewalks, and rail lines. The more interconnected and accessible each of these forms is, the greater the benefits to the entire network. A focus on only one transportation network form, or on a single user group, should be discouraged. The best networks offer all residents multiple modes of transport options to get to their destinations.
- All transportation network forms should be designed, constructed, operated and maintained so that all users can travel safely and independently. Access to existing facilities, especially for persons with disabilities, should be maintained during construction if possible.
- Transportation projects should address the need for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross facilities as well as travel along them. The design and construction of new facilities should not preclude the provision of future improvements to accommodate increased demand for walking and bicycling, especially in order to access transit.
- The most cost-effective way to adopt Complete Street design elements is to integrate them into the design of transportation facilities from the beginning, rather than retrofit facilities to accommodate them later.
- Transportation projects should comply with up-to-date design standards, including standards relating to providing access for individuals with disabilities.
- Transportation projects should always include thoughtful consideration of design elements that improve the safety, convenience, environmental sustainability and beauty of the street (or path, walkway, etc.). Such considerations might include landscaping with native habitats, signage, lighting, street furniture, signals, markings, and art installations.
- Street design should encourage active living. The health of residents can be tied directly to their local environment and their opportunities to engage in physical activity. Active living integrates physical activity into daily routines and active living communities encourage individuals of all ages and abilities to be more physically active.
- These Complete Streets principles should be applied with due consideration to the neighborhood context in which a project is located, as well as any environmental requirements (applicable federal, state and local), and the effects of right-of-way encroachment on adjacent property owners and residents. While all users should be accommodated, modal priorities may vary by location.
The Department of Planning and Community Development formed an interdepartmental work group to examine the aspects of implementation. The work group included representatives from Planning, Public Works and the Police Department. In addition, the engineering consulting firm of A. Morton Thomas was hired to develop design guidelines. The information compiled by the work group was shared with the Bowie Green Team’s Multi-modal and Public Spaces (MaPS) subgroup, which provided specific comments and recommendations on Complete Streets criteria and implementation.
The final design guidelines were shared with all engineers, surveyors and consultants doing business with the City. The City Manager’s transmittal memo states that the Design Guide incorporates the best practices in transportation design for all modes of travel. Furthermore, the Design Guide shall be used to incorporate Complete Streets design principles for all new road construction and whenever capital level maintenance or repairs are being planned for priority streets as defined in the Complete Streets Policy and Implementation Plan.