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Complete Streets

a downtown intersection displaying  many complete streets features: highly visible crosswalks, grassy planting strips, street trees, bike lanes, ADA-compliant curb cuts, and good pavement markings

A Complete Street is a road that is designed to be safe for drivers; bicyclists; transit vehicles and users; and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. The Complete Streets concept focuses not just on individual roads but on changing the decision-making and design process so that all users are routinely considered during the planning, designing, building and operating of all road ways. It is about policy and institutional change.

– from "Complete Streets: We Can Get There from Here," by John LaPlante, P.E., and Barbara McCann


The term “complete streets” and more often “living streets” is also used to define a street that functions holistically for its users and surrounding community, supporting all modes of transportation, but also appropriate adjacent land uses and activities.

People using a street, or the land or buildings adjacent to it, for other activities than transportation, including vending, recreation, education, activism or other activities also define a streets context and level of “completeness”. Context Sensitive Solutions offers many strategies and tools for understanding a street’s or road’s context holistically, which can assist in the process of completing the street.

Resources on CSS and Complete Streets

Note: for resources on CSS and pedestrian and bicycle design issues, see the pedestrian and bicycle pages in the design section of the website.



Article Icon Presentation Complete Streets and Context Sensitive Solutions Webinar Materials

On June 11, 2009, ContextSensitiveSolutions.org and the Federal Highway Administration hosted a Complete Streets and Context Sensitive Solutions webinar.

Gabe Rousseau, Ph.D., Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager, FHWA Office of Natural and Human Environment, Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition and principal of McCann Consulting, and Michael Ronkin, Owner, Designing Streets for Pedestrians and Bicyclists LLC provided an overview of FHWA's perspective on Complete Streets; including a discussion on the importance of pedestrian and bicycle issues, and what federal programs and policies are available to support communities in their Complete Streets efforts. The webinar detailed the design and implementation strategies of Complete Streets and how they relate to Context Sensitive Solutions initiatives. The presenters also reviewed the accelerating adoption of complete streets policies and laws across the country.

View Complete Streets Webinar Presentation (approx. length: 1 hour 26 minutes, opens in new window)


Website Icon Website Best Practices Manual on Complete Streets (opens in a new window)
The American Planning Association and the National Complete Streets Coalition have launched a research project on complete streets. The effort is intended to transform community planning, urban design, and engineering street design practices to better meet the needs of all forms of vehicular and non-vehicular transportation — cars, transit, pedestrians, (including pedestrians with disabilities), and bicyclists.
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Complete Streets: We Can Get There from Here
This feature explains the Complete Streets movement and explores ways to make urban thoroughfares more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and respectful of the surrounding community while not unduly compromising motor vehicle travel.
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Retrofitting Urban Arterials Into Complete Streets
This paper will explore ways to make urban thoroughfares more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and respectful of the surrounding community, while not unduly compromising motor vehicle travel.
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report AARP – Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America
America needs streets designed to be safe and convenient for travel by automobile, foot, bicycle and transit regardless of age or ability. As the nation ages, Complete Streets planning presents an opportunity to increase the safety and availability of older adults' travel options.
Website Icon Website The Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (opens in a new window)
SAFEATEA-LU Section 1807 established the NTPP. This program is providing 25 million dollars each to four communities--Columbia, MO; Marin County, CA; Minneapolis Area, MN; Sheboygan County, WI--to demonstrate how improved walking and bicycling networks can increase rates of walking and bicycling.
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report PBIC Case Study Compendium
This PBIC Case Study Compendium contains a collection of brief, original case studies developed by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP). The case studies, or success stories, cover pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs from across the US and abroad, including engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, planning, health promotion, and comprehensive safety initiatives. They are intended to provide ideas and spur thinking about potential activities communities can undertake to further support bicycling and walking.
Website Icon Website Boston Complete Streets (opens in a new window)

"The car is no longer the king in Boston." With these words, in fall 2009, Mayor Thomas M. Menino ushered in a new era of street design in the City of Boston.

The new Complete Streets approach puts pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users on equal footing with motor-vehicle drivers. The initiative aims to improve the quality of life in Boston by creating streets that are both great public spaces and sustainable transportation networks. It embraces innovation to address climate change and promote healthy living. The objective is to ensure Boston's streets are Multimodal, Green, and Smart.


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