Monday, April 8, 2013

Lee County highly ranked in national report on "best complete streets policies of 2012"

It's great to see national recognition of the quality of Lee County's complete streets policy, and to learn that there are 32 communities in Florida that have now adopted policies...and Lee County's policy is ranked the 2nd strongest in Florida!  Kudos to the County's complete streets team!
Today the National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC) and Smart Growth America issued its annual report, The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2012, which examines all the Complete Streets policies passed in the last year and highlights some of the best. The analysis also revealed that the Complete Streets movement grew in 2012, continuing a national trend since 2005.  In total, 488 Complete Streets policies are now in place nationwide, at all levels of government.  2012 was a banner year, with 125 more communities adopting Complete Streets policies. 

When Lee County adopted its complete streets resolution in 2009, we were among about 100 policies nationally, so it's exciting to see the major growth in the complete streets movement in the past 3 years, especially in Florida where there are now 32 communities with complete streets policies, with the majority adopted in 2012.

As stated in the Smart Growth America press release, "Communities across the country are making roads safer and more accessible for everyone who uses them, and more communities are using these strategies now than ever before. These laws, resolutions, executive orders, policies and planning and design documents encourage and provide safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, ethnicity or how they travel."

The report evaluated and scored each of the 488 complete streets policies based on 10 elements of ideal policy language.  While Lee County's policy was not in the top 10 in the country highlighted in the report, its score of 66%, with its greatest strength in its implementation plan, was the 6th highest scoring community that adopted its complete streets policy through county commission resolution.  Of the 32 communities in Florida with complete streets resolutions, Lee County ranked a close second in the State, with only Winter Park's policy ranking higher (69.2%).  The City of Fort Myers' complete streets policy, adopted in 2011, had a score of 36.4%.  The top ranked plan in the country was Indianapolis, with a score of 89.6%.

Below is a table that highlights the complete streets policy rankings of communities in Florida (taken from Appendix B: Index of Complete Streets policy scores): (ranked from highest to lowest)
Florida Complete Streets Policy Rankings
Winter Park                 69.2%
Lee County                 66.0%
Hillsborough MPO      64.8%
Grant-Valkaria             61.6%
Cocoa                          48.8%
Orange City                 47.6%
Space Coast MPO       47.2%
Titusville                     46.8%
Cape Canaveral          46.4%
Polk County                45.6%
Auburndale                 45.6%
Bartow                        45.6%
Davenport                   45.6%
Dundee                       45.6%
Eagle Lake                  45.6%
Fort Meede                 45.6%
Frostproof                   45.6%
Haines City                 45.6%
Highland Park             45.6%
Hillcrest Heights         45.6%
Lake Alfred                 45.6%
Lake Hamilton            45.6%
Lake Wells                  45.6%
Lakeland                     45.6%
Mulberry                     45.6%
Polk City                     45.6%
Winter Haven              45.6%
Rockledge                   44.4%
Palm Bay                     38.0%
Fort Myers                 36.4%
Tampa                         35.6%
Miami                         24.4%
FDOT (1984 law)       23.2%

The intent of the NCSC's evaluation is to help communities write the best complete streets policies possible and to provide ideas for improvements to communities with existing policies.  As the report states, "The concept of Complete Streets is simple and inspiring, but the best policies do more than simply affirm support for Complete Streets.  Ideal policies refine a vision, provide clear direction and intent, complement community needs and grant the flexibility in design and approach necessary to secure an effective Complete Streets process and outcome."

In addition to the annual rankings, the report includes tips and tools for communities interested in creating strong complete streets policies.

 Report prepared by Darla Letourneau

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