Richmond streets on the way to becoming more Complete!
Before talking about complete streets, let’s talk a little about incomplete streets. Pick a street in your area that is prioritized for moving motor vehicles. Moving them in quickly, storing them for indeterminate lengths of time in on-street parking spaces, and getting them out again. Have you tried to walk across one of these streets, or to ride along one? It can be challenging, scary, and uncomfortable.
That’s an incomplete street.
And one of the many problems with incomplete streets is that they often connect the most demanded origins and destinations, places likes residences, shops, schools, and places of employment. Most are the main, direct path between where people are and where they want to go. When incomplete streets aren’t the most direct path, they are often laid perpendicularly such that they become barriers to cross.
According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, there are 625 regional and local jurisdictions and 27 states (including the Commonwealth of Virginia) to have enacted Complete Streets Policies, laws to require including walkers, riders, transit users, those with mobility challenges, and people of all ages and abilities into their street designs.
Richmond started talking about Complete Streets in 2010 when the idea was included in the recommendations [.pdf] of the Mayor’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Trails Commission. And here’s a 2012 post from local blog Bikeable Richmond about complete streets. After several years of quiet work spearheaded by Richmond Sustainability Manager Alicia Zatcoff and Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Trails Coordinator Jakob Helmboldt, it turns out the quoted information above from the National Complete Streets Coalition is out-of-date. Richmond City Council just passed its very own Complete Streets Ordinance last week!
The ordinance empowers city staff to create a set of complete streets guidelines for transportation design in Richmond. We look forward to seeing the result and working to ensure that the policies are high quality and widely-implemented.