Complete Streets Policy Celebrates One Year

Jun 25, 2015 - 3:01 pm

In the first year since adopting a Complete Streets Policy, the City of Austin has made energetic strides to ensure that our community’s streets are more safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages and abilities – whether they choose to travel as pedestrians, by bicycle, by transit, or by vehicle. By making biking and walking safer, Complete Streets encourages people to travel by these modes, especially for short trips, which help to reduce traffic.

Adopted by Austin City Council on June 12, 2014, the Complete Streets Policy (read it here) was recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition as a Best Policy of 2014 nationwide. Austin Transportation Department, with the City’s Complete Streets Steering Committee and partner departments, has been steadily implementing all aspects of the Policy. This includes advancing specific projects to improve Austin streets, such as new bicycle facilities and sidewalks, through our Active Transportation Program.

To kick off Year Two, Austin Transportation Department is launching a year-long program of challenge activities, in coordination with the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets. Austin Mayor Steve Adler recently committed the City of Austin to join over 200 other cities across the U.S. participating in activities outlined in the Mayors’ Challenge issued by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

The City of Austin is responding to each of the seven challenges that support an overall goal of improved safety for people whenever they walk or bike on City streets.  The supporting activities range from developing infrastructure (such as new protected bike lanes), to enhanced data collection, education of people as they travel by all modes, and enforcement of safety laws. The top challenge on the list: “Take a Complete Streets approach.” Read about the seven Challenge Activities here.

Key Accomplishments:  Austin’s Complete Streets Program, Year 1

  • Streets for People – Austin Transportation, and Planning and Zoning Departments are working together to approach all streets as places for people, integrating mobility and “placemaking” goals. Examples include the current corridor planning for South Lamar Boulevard and Burnet Road.
  • Complete Streets Project Reviews – A new review process and checklist have been launched to ensure that all City of Austin projects that involve the street and/or right of way are in compliance with the Policy. The Public Works Department is playing a strong role.
  • Development Review – City staff are actively working with applicants to seek full compliance by private developments with the Complete Streets Policy. For example, site plan reviewers are ensuring all developments include code-compliant sidewalks that serve to implement the Policy.
  • Street Design Process & Standards – Coordinated updates are advancing for all street design processes, land development code requirements, criteria manuals, and other standards and practices, to bring them into alignment with the Complete Streets Policy.
  • Green Streets – A Green Streets Working Group is advancing the green infrastructure provisions of the Complete Streets Policy. Examples include street trees, “rain gardens” for stormwater treatment and other landscaping features.

In year two, the Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets will provide an organizing framework for a variety of City of Austin efforts for safe and complete streets.  A major focal point will be hosting the NACTO Designing Cities 2015 Conference, Oct. 28-31. This major national event for transportation professionals from leading cities across the U.S. is organized by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.  To ensure that our city fully benefits from the experts coming to town, Austin Transportation Department is organizing a concurrent Better Streets Week, offering free community talks by conference speakers, with a variety of community groups hosting events.

In addition, Austin Transportation Department will continue to lead a five-year plan for ongoing Complete Streets Policy implementation with the Steering Committee. As opportunities and funding allow, complete streets improvements will continue to be made citywide. 

For more information, please visit the City’s Complete Streets website.