The Great Opportunity of Complete Streets


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Presented by Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Executive Director Kevin Hardman on October 5, 2010, at the La Crosse complete streets workshop sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the La Crosse County Health Department.

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  • Member driven organization (3,500), 22 year old organization, 10 staff members, 15 board membersConsulting services, events, communications, lobbying
  • In this presentation, I’m going to talk about the Great Opportunity of Complete Streets here in Wisconsin. And Complete Streets do present a great opportunity because they are streets that accommodate everyone.---------------------------------------------------Photo: Santa Barbara, CA (Dan Burden, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, Inc.)
  • Complete Streets are catching on nationwide. As of the beginning of this year (2010), 120 communities – cities, towns, counties, metropolitan planning organizations and states – have complete streets policies. ---------------------------------------------Photo: Milwaukee (Michael Newman; used with permission through a Creative Commons license (
  • This chart shows the number of jurisdictions that have adopted Complete Streets policies each year over the past 10 years.The total number of new jurisdictions with complete streets policies hit 44 in 2009.The acceleration in policy adoption is indicative of a nationwide movement to change the way we approach our transportation networks. People want choices, safe streets, and healthy, livable environments.Complete streets are not just for big cities and states. A number of smaller jurisdictions have adopted policies – places like Basalt, CO, and DeSoto, MO.
  • Bike Fed helped Complete Streets law get passed at state level in 2009.We were one of the first states to pass a statewide complete streets law.It’s a law, not just a policy that could change with the political winds.The law applies to new and reconstructed roads built with state funds.
  • Tremendous potential for to convert short trips from driving to walking/bicycling.Data: National Household Travel Survey, 2008Photo: Columbus, Wis.
  • 55% of Americans would rather drive less & walk more. However, a full 1/3 of Americans report not taking a walking trip in the last week. Studies show how unsafe people feel on the roads in their communities – lack of sidewalks, poor lighting, and too few crosswalks. These problems with the built environment keep people from walking, biking, and getting to transit.Photo: Kids walking in Madison, Wis., Ed Luschei (used with Creative Commons license National Household Travel Survey, 2008
  • Complete Streets aren’t just for spandex-clad bicyclists and hardcore pedestrians. Everyone benefits from having more choices about how to get around.Especially people who can’t or rather would not drive. Nearly a third of Americans don’t drive:21% of Americans over 65.Kids under 16.Many low income Americans who can’t afford to own a car.It's not about making it harder for motor vehicles. Complete streets are safer for all users.------------------------------Bottom picture: Vieau Elementary summer Bike Fed camp in Milwaukee, photo courtesy of Adam Carr from Radio MilwaukeeSources:Surface Transportation Policy Project. “Americans’ Attitudes Toward Walking and Creating Better Walking Communities.” 2003. American Public Transportation Association. 2009 Public Transportation Fact Book.2008 National Household Travel Survey. Non-drivers represent 29.8% of Americans. Of those over 65, non-drivers represent 20.79%.Steven Raphael and Alan Berube. “Socioeconomic Differences in Household Automobile Ownership Rates: Implications for Evacuation Policy,” paper prepared for the Berkeley Symposium on “Real Estate, Catastrophic Risk, and Public Policy,” March 23, 2006,
  • Despite the fact that walking and bicycling account for 12% of trips nationally, those transportation modes receive just 1% of federal transportation funding.Safety issues disproportionately effect walkers and bicyclists, too. While these are pretty safe forms of transportation overall, the fatality rate is slightly higher for them because many roads aren’t built with them in mind.Sources: Federal Highway Administration’s Fiscal Management Information System2008 National Household Travel SurveyNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System
  • Why do we want Complete Streets? We can build streets that are part of our communities, that benefit our communities – from increased capacity on existing roads, to improved health, to providing transportation choices.This picture is of the intersection of Gorham and State Streets in Madison. State Street is a restricted-use street, while Gorham is a complete street outfitted with sidewalks and bike lanes. As you can see, you can get a lot more folks through a traffic light at a time when they’re on bicycles, rather than in separate cars. So streets that accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians can increase capacity.They also increase safety by making the different users more visible and making traffic flow more predictably.Photo credit: McGonigal (
  • I’ll now walk you through some before-after pictures of streets around the country. As you’ll see, applying complete streets principalsImproves traffic flowMakes our communities more pleasant to live and work inBoosts local economies
  • This is a picture taken in Cary, Ill.As you can see, this road wasn’t the most pleasant place to bike or walk. Walkers and bicyclists created a dirt desire path in this field next to the road because they had no other place to go.
  • Added a sidewalk - Way nicer, don’t you think?The trees planted by the sidewalk may also make the road safer for pedestrians. Studies have shown that drivers tend to slow down when trees or buildings line the road, vs. an open field.Photo: Cary, IL
  • This is a street in Boulder, Colo.No shoulder rough road, incomplete sidewalk that is right next to the road, with no “cushion” from vehicular trafficPoor stripingPhoto: Boulder, CO
  • Added striped shouldersRepaired roadImproved sidewalk (left) – notice the trees now planted between the sidewalk and road, providing a visual and physical space between the sidewalk and streetRepainted stripingThese kinds of improvements have helped make Boulder a Platinum Bicycle-Friendly City from the League of American Bicyclists. (La Crosse is currently rated Bronze, as is Milwaukee, while Madison is rated Gold). [Note: The cones in the picture aren’t permanent features; the road crew had them in place while they completed work on the shoulder.]Photo: Boulder, CO
  • This five-lane road is very difficult for pedestrians to cross, and the width of the road induces speeding.And look how few cars are on the road. Does it really need to be that wide to get traffic through?Photo: San Diego, CA (Dan Burden, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, Inc.)
  • The median and painted, signed crosswalks make it mush easier for pedestrians to cross.Reducing the number of lanes and narrowing the road with bumpouts also help by reducing speeding.(The bike lane could be better – potential problems with the bike lane disappearing before the bumpout on right– bike lane should merge with the left traffic lane earlier.)Photo: San Diego, CA (Dan Burden, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, Inc.)
  • Photo: Pottstown, PAYou might see this picture and think that reducing the number of traffic lanes would lead to traffic jams.
  • Photo: Pottstown, PABut this complete streets design maintained car flow whileAdding bike lanesMaking it easier for pedestrians to crossIncreasing the number of parking spaces
  • Even roads that look “complete” at first glance…It has Crosswalkslots of pedestriansPhoto: New York City (NYC Department of Transportation)
  • Can really benefit from a complete streets policy.AddedCrosswalk (left center of picture) so that pedestrians don’t have to cross multiple streets to get to their destinationSharrows in the lefthand lane to indicate that motorists should share the street with bicyclistsBike lanes (bottom half of picture, in opposite direction of sharrows)Bike boxes to make bicyclists more visible at traffic lights and prevent motorists from making right-turns in front of bicyclists (thus causing collisions)Yellow pavement markings so everyone can tell which direction traffic is supposed to goPhoto: New York City (NYC Department of Transportation)
  • Twenty years of consistent investment in a multimodal system has lead to measurable results. These numbers represent commuting to work only, so actual use of these modes in all trips is likely higher.Transit: 10.6% locally, 5.0% nationally; Walking: 8.3% locally, 2.8% nationally; Biking: 9.9% locally, 0.55% nationallySource: 2008 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau: Boulder, CO artist’s rendition.
  • In 1999 when local merchants, residents and property owners came together to create the Barracks Row Alliance (now Barracks Row Main Street), things looked good: crime numbers were dropping, home sales were rising, new employment was coming - but businesses were not. District (of Columbia) Department of Transportation worked with the main street organization, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and residents to develop a signature streetscape and spent $8 million in the area. That investment was one factor that helped give Barracks Row the extra edge it needed to really begin to attract new businesses and investment. It created an environment that felt safe and looked like a special place. Source: District Office of Planning, Transportation Research Board Circular E-C100, Linking Transportation and Land Use: A Peer Exchange. July 12-13, 2005.
  • In most metro areas studied, every one-point increase in the 100-point Walk Score scale is associated with an increase in home value of $500 - $3,000.Source: Cortright, Joseph. (2009). Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities. CEOs for Cities Oconomowoc , photo by Pete Prodoehl
  • Tremendous amount of evidence that when you put in sidewalks people will walk, and when you put in bike facilities, people will bike.Sources: Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R.J. (2002). “The relative influence of individual, social, and physical environment determinants of physical activity.” Social Science & Medicine, 54 1793-1812.Dill, Jennifer and Theresa Carr. (2003). “Bicycle Commuting and Facilities in Major US Cities: If You Build Them, Commuters Will Use Them.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1828, TRB, 2003, pp 116-123.Top Photo: Whitewater (credit to Mark Preuschl, Creative Commons license)Bottom Photo: Milwaukee, Wis.
  • ConclusionComplete streets create more choicesshorten travel timesencourage less carbon-intensive transportation.Photo: UW Milwaukee (Michael Newman, Creative Commons License)
  • Join with the Bike Fed as we support Complete Streets and other programs across Wisconsin to make our communities more vibrant, bicycle-friendly places to live, work, and play.
  • We work to make communities more bicycle friendly. In 2010, we’ve worked with municipalities across Wisconsin - from towns in Door County, to the City of Milwaukee, to Kenosha County – in an effort to create a vision and plan for these communities to become more bicycle-friendly. This slide is from Madison, which is rated as a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. We’re working with the city to move its bike-friendliness to Platinum-level.
  • Safe Routes to School to build more transportation options.
  • We are expanding our work with businesses to ensure that hundreds of businesses in Wisconsin will encourage their employees to bike to work. Our suite of corporate services help businesses become more bike-friendly workplaces.
  • Join with the Bike Fed as we move bicycling forward in Wisconsin. We are working hard to make Complete Streets a reality for all communities across the state. You as an individual or your organization can join us at
  • The Great Opportunity of Complete Streets

    1. 1. The Great Opportunity of Complete Streets<br />Kevin Hardman<br />Executive Director<br />Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin<br />
    2. 2. Bike Fed Vision<br />Millions of Wisconsin residents and visitors of all backgrounds choosebicyclingas an integral and convenientpart of their daily life. <br />Wisconsin is one of the world's best places to ride a bicycle.<br />
    3. 3. Bike Fed Mission<br />To inspire, motivate, and unitea strong community of civic, business and political leaders, motorists and bicyclists to move bicycling forward in Wisconsin.<br />
    4. 4. Bike Fed Quick Facts<br /><ul><li>Formed in 1988
    5. 5. One of country’s oldest bicycling advocacy organizations
    6. 6. Supported by thousands of members
    7. 7. 15-person Board of Directors
    8. 8. Offices are in Madison and Milwaukee</li></li></ul><li>What are Complete Streets?<br />Complete Streets are for everyone.<br />
    9. 9. Complete Streets Policies<br />More than120 communities have committed to a complete streets approach.<br />
    10. 10. The Growing Movement<br />Number of Policies Adopted<br />Year<br />
    11. 11. Wisconsin Complete Streets Law<br />In 2009, Wisconsin passed a complete streets law.<br />
    12. 12. Wisconsin’s potential<br />Of all U.S. trips:<br /><ul><li>50% are under 3 miles
    13. 13. 28% are 1 mile or less
    14. 14. 72% of trips 1 mile or less are driven</li></ul>2008 National Household Travel Survey<br />
    15. 15. Wisconsin’s potential<br />One quarter of walking trips take place on roads without sidewalks or shoulders.<br />National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors, 2003<br />
    16. 16. Who wants Complete Streets?<br />55% of Americans would rather drive less & walk more.<br />2008 National Household Travel Survey<br />
    17. 17. Who wants Complete Streets?<br />Nearly a third of Americans don’t drive.<br />
    18. 18. Who wants Complete Streets?<br />
    19. 19. Disproportionate funding<br />
    20. 20. Good Streets Benefit Communities<br /><ul><li>Increase capacity
    21. 21. Improve safety
    22. 22. Better health
    23. 23. Economic growth
    24. 24. Lower emissions
    25. 25. Provide choices</li></li></ul><li>Seeing is believing …<br />
    26. 26. Before<br />
    27. 27. After<br />
    28. 28. Before<br />
    29. 29. After<br />
    30. 30. Before<br />
    31. 31. After<br />22<br />
    32. 32. Before<br />
    33. 33. After<br />
    34. 34. Before<br />
    35. 35. After<br />
    36. 36. Change Travel Patterns<br />Twenty years of consistent investment in a has lead to measurable results in Boulder, CO.<br />Transit use is twice the national average.<br />Walking commutes are 3 times the national average.<br />Bicycle commutes are 18 times the national average.<br />2008 American Community Survey<br />
    37. 37. Enhance Economic Competitiveness<br />Washington, DC: Barracks Row/8th Street SE<br /><ul><li>$8 milllion public investment in streetscape improvement 2003-04
    38. 38. $8 million private investment in following 2 years
    39. 39. 32 new business establishments
    40. 40. $80,000 in sales tax annually</li></li></ul><li>Enhance Economic Competitiveness<br />Home values increase when communities becomemore walkable.<br />Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities<br />
    41. 41. Change Travel Patterns<br />Residents are 65% more likely to walk in a neighborhood with sidewalks.<br />Cities with more bike lanes per square mile have higher levels of bicycle commuting.<br />
    42. 42.
    43. 43. Join with us<br />
    44. 44.
    45. 45.
    46. 46.
    47. 47. Contact Information<br />Kevin Hardman<br /><br />414.271.9685<br /><br />Thanks to the National Complete Streets Coalition for providing photographs from other parts of the United States and background on the national movement for complete streets. Additional information is available from<br />
    48. 48. Copyright & Use<br />Portions of this presentation are licensed by the National Complete Streets Coalition under a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial use with attribution. Any of these conditions may be waived with permission of the coalition. You can find the source materials at<br />For more information about this license, please visit:<br />The remaining portions of the presentation were created by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Please email if you would like to use this presentation.<br />37<br />
    49. 49. Happy riding!<br />