Tailoring complete streets to your community

Posted in: Bridges, Transportation

Complete-Street_bodyComplete streets are quickly becoming a staple in urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods due to their accommodating nature and aesthetic features. They make transportation safe for users of all ages and abilities. Yet not all complete streets are equal. Determining which features are best suited for your community will help streamline the design process, saving you time and money.


The most common modes of transportation that are present in urban complete streets are roadways, pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks, dedicated bicycle lanes and rapid transportation access like train and bus stops. This makes sense as cities house thousands of people, all of whom have different transportation access and needs. One vital aspect for urban complete streets is to include accommodations for people with disabilities. Audible crosswalks aid those with low vision; longer crosswalk times assist people who use walkers and canes; and pushbuttons situated near the ground as well as curb ramps would be invaluable to people in wheelchairs.


Concessions for bus or train access may not be necessary in a suburban neighborhood and/or mirror urban neighborhood. The space that would otherwise be dedicated to rapid transit stops could be converted into wider sidewalks or the addition of a bicycle lane. Additionally, greenways are an excellent addition to suburban communities. They allow access to nature while providing dedicated paths for cyclists and pedestrians. We put pedestrian safety first in the STH 96 Reconstruction project, improving crosswalks and adding bike lanes throughout the Village of Wrightstown.


In rural neighborhoods where vehicular travel speeds are higher, it is best to provide a wide multi-use path with a grassed median separation. Landscaping features such as bushes, flowering plants and small ornamental trees can be placed in the median area as a traffic calming measure to deter speeding and provide a separation between motor vehicles and pedestrians/bicyclist.

Giving people a choice in transportation offers the same level of service for all members of the community, not just those with vehicles. Tailoring your roadway design to address local pedestrian accommodations will give your citizens a chance to exercise while exploring their neighborhoods safely.

Deb Weaver, PE

About the Author

Deb Weaver, P.E., has an in-depth knowledge of traffic regulations and the challenges facing communities. Specifically, she brings a wealth of expertise in traffic studies and safety, traffic signal design, and traffic analysis and modeling. Along her 30-year career, she has developed a deep commitment to traffic safety and a broad experience working collaboratively.

Read more posts by Deb Weaver, PE

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