Thursday, April 4, 2013

BikeWalkLee Column: What is a complete street?

BikeWalkLee's column this week explains the term complete street and what it means for citizens of Lee County. It also alerts readers (as mentioned in earlier BWL column) that the new print edition of the county biking facilities map is now available.
Before and After--making a street complete
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “complete street” in the context of transportation planning, transit or pedestrian/bicyclist use. But what does it mean?

It’s simple: A street that’s designed and operated to allow safe access for all its users. That means everyone who might use that street and its rights-of-way – cars, trucks, buses, motorcylists, walkers, bikers, transit riders, people with special transportation needs, you name it.

This is not a “one size fits all” road template. A complete street in downtown Fort Myers will look very different from a complete street in Alva or Buckingham – because the types of uses will be very different. A “complete streets” policy just means planners incorporate each area’s unique access needs and safety into any design.
A complete street-- N. Estero Blvd. in FMB

Lee County has a “complete streets” policy; and Fort Myers is developing theirs. But why does that matter to you?

• It means safer streets for everyone, when all designs address every user’s access as part of the overall plan.

• It means more efficient transportation, as various modes are integrated from the beginning, each augmenting the other. All forms of traffic can move together, not battle for the same limited road footprint.

• It means more responsible use of public funds, because sound design can be built in — not added on later, when it’s much more expensive.

• It means streets that have a longer life, built for tomorrow’s demands and not just today’s desires.

• It means returning to citizens the freedom to make cost-saving and healthy transportation choices.

• It means streets where walking and bike riding have a place of their own. Streets where buses and motorcyclists have safer passage. Streets where signage and signals are clear and consistent, which makes everyone’s transit more predictable (and thus safer).

Finally, it means streets that serve local homes, businesses and institutions. Road designs that keep children safe and communities intact. Parking and laning that allow customers to arrive, deliveries to be made and traffic to flow all on the same infrastructure. Crosswalks and cautions that recognize the special uses and special needs of places such as schools, hospitals, churches and more. Mostly, features that enable people to really use their roads, whatever their needs or capabilities… and that do all this with an attractive and alluring design that makes streets (and the communities that rely on them) more inviting and interesting.
A Fort Myers complete street--Winkler Ave.
Sounds like a lot to ask? Not really, it just takes some planning. Next time, we’ll show you an example of where that’s happening in a fast-growing area of Lee County.

The new print edition of the county biking facilities map is now available at bike shops, libraries, chambers of commerce, Lee County Parks, the county’s visitor kiosks at airport, from local bike clubs, and more. For questions, contact Metropolitan Planning Organization staffer Brian Raimondo at braimondo@leempo.comor call (239) 330-2240.

— BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at

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