Benefits of Complete Streets

intersection and crosswalk in DagsboroA broad coalition of public health, transportation, public policy, housing, business, environmental, and government officials are urging the adoption of complete streets policies at the national, state, and local levels.  Advocates of complete streets cite the following benefits:

Transportation equity
Nearly one-third of Americans do not drive.  Pedestrian-oriented facilities and transportation provide accessibility and mobility to those who do not own cars or are unable to drive—including children!

Safer streets
According to a Dangerous by Design 2011: Delaware1 report, there were 171 pedestrians killed on Delaware roadways between 2000 and 2009.  Most of these fatalities occurred on roadways that are dangerous by design—engineered to move more vehicles faster and more quickly with little regard for the safe transportation of pedestrians, bicyclists, persons with mobility impairments, or transit users.2  Complete streets ensure that the entire right of way is planned, designed and operated to provide safe access for users of all ages and abilities.

Improved health
According to the Delaware Division of Public Health, over 60 percent of Delaware adults and about 40 percent of our children are either overweight or obese.  A Nemours Health and Prevention Services policy brief (PDF) explains why Delaware local governments should develop complete streets plans and policies to promote physical activity and health of youth. 

On average, the obesity epidemic currently costs Delaware $222 million per year in direct healthcare costs.3  Complete streets offer active-transportation options and greater opportunities for physical activity through targeted investment in multi-modal transportation, pedestrian-oriented design, and policies that support sustainable land-use patterns. 

Nemours Health and Prevention Services has developed a presentation, which describes how complete streets promote healthy and active living (PDF).

A greener environment
Nearly one half of all car trips are less than two miles away.  If we can convert these short trips to walking or bicycling, we can save gas and lower harmful auto emissions. In addition, complete streets can increase the capacity of the transportation network and reduce congestion.

Community livability
Complete streets are economically viable and contribute to the overall livability of a community. Improved walkability can help revitalize a downtown, increase private investment, lead to higher property values, promote tourism, and support the development of a good business climate.  In addition, recent studies show that property values are higher in walkable neighborhoods and as are those with shorter commutes and proximity to a central business district.

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What Are the Benefits of Complete Streets?
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for more information see Complete Streets in Delaware:  A Guide for Local Governments (20.4MB) PDF icon

Footnotes
1 Transportation for America (2011). Dangerous by Design 2011: Delaware.  Retrieved 6/29/11 from http://t4america.org/docs/dbd2011/de-dangerous-by-design.pdf.
2 Transportation for America (2001). Dangerous by Design 2011. Retrieved 6/29/11 from http://t4america.org/docs/dbd2011/Dangerous-by-Design-2011.pdf.
3 Finkelstein et al., 2009; United Health Foundation, 2008.