Can you really say which cities implemented the best Complete Streets programs in 2013? Well, Smart Growth America apparently can.
Over 80 U.S. communities implemented Complete Streets programs in 2013. Smart Growth American went through all of them, ranked them based on "ten ideal policy elements," and published a list of the top 15 programs. The ten key elements Smart Growth America considered were:
1. Vision: The policy establishes a motivating vision for why the community wants Complete Streets: for improved safety, better health, increased efficiency, convenience of choices or other reasons.
2. All users and modes: The policy specifies that "all modes" includes walking, bicycling, riding public transportation, driving trucks, buses and automobiles and "all users" includes people of all ages and abilities.
3. All projects and phases: All types of transportation projects are subject to the policy, including design, planning, construction, maintenance, and operations of new and existing streets and facilities.
4. Clear, accountable exceptions: Any exceptions to the policy are specified and approved by a high-level official.
5. Network: The policy recognizes the need to create a comprehensive, integrated and connected network for all modes and encourages street connectivity.
6. Jurisdiction: All other agencies that govern transportation activities can clearly understand the policy's application and may be involved in the process as appropriate.
7. Design: The policy recommends use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines, while recognizing the need for flexibility to balance user needs.
8. Context sensitivity: The current and planned context—buildings, land use and transportation needs—is considered in planning and design solutions for transportation projects.
9. Performance measures: The policy includes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
10. Implementation steps: Specific next steps for implementing the policy are described.
Smart Growth America's "Complete Streets: A to Z" page also gives a good idea of what the organization considers best practices in this arena. Notably, Complete Streets programs evaluated were implemented in a variety of different ways. "Different types of policy statements are included in this examination, including legislation, resolutions, executive orders, departmental policies and policies adopted by an elected board," the organization notes.
Based on its thorough evaluation, Smart Growth America concluded that these communities had the top 15 programs:
1. Littleton, MA
2. Peru, IN
3. Fort Lauderdale, FL
4. Auburn, ME (tie)
4. Lewiston, ME (tie)
6. Baltimore County, MD
7. Portsmouth, NH
8. Muscatine, IA
9. Piqua, OH
10. Oakland, CA
11. Hayward, CA (tie)
11. Livermore, CA (tie)
11. Massachusetts Department of Transportation (tie)
14. Cedar Falls, IA (tie)
14. Waterloo, IA (tie)
For more details, check out the full report: The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013.
With these new communities on board, Smart Growth America notes that 610 jurisdictions now have Complete Streets policies."Today, 27 states as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have Complete Streets policies. Fifty-one regional planning organizations, 48 counties and 482 municipalities in 48 states also have adopted such policies."
Again, the key is exactly how thorough and strong these policies are.