Are Complete Streets Incomplete?

The Project for Public Spaces has published a rather provocative article on the above topic.  It highlights the impact the “Complete Streets” movement has had on the American planning policy community, and encourages us as planners to consider whether or not the movement has done enough.  The author asserts that there are three rules that we must begin to incorporate into to our Complete Streets philosophy if we are going to truly take it to it’s max potential:

1.  Think of Streets as Public Places.

2.  Plan for Community Outcomes.

3.  Design for Appropriate Speeds.

There are details in the article about exactly what each of these rules mean to the author, but I feel compelled to point out that I love the first idea of thinking of streets of public places (like a park or other area people gather with intention).  Here is some food for thought to begin thinking of streets as public places:

Why do people come to a public space?  Is it because it’s free?  Is it because it is accessible with minimal effort (i.e. no crowded parking to deal with, no natural barriers?)?  Or is it because of a sense of community?

How do we create these traits in our streetscapes?  Should we have more street-level events like open-air markets or music events (i.e. Pecan Street Festival in Austin, TX which exists to celebrate the street)?

How do we provide balance between all the users of our streets?  The planner’s ideal is to have a street environment that is much less auto-centric, but how do we ensure that we provide ease of access to all modalities so that rather than resent one another, they exist harmoniously?

Just a few things to think about.  Click HERE for a list of additional resources and articles on the Complete Streets Movement.

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