Complete streets

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Complete Streets are policies and physical environments that promote different modes of transportation to travel by foot, bicycle, transit, wheelchairs, and automobiles. Complete Streets also refers to the goal of having infrastructure changes in city planning, design funding, and maintenance of streets. Complete streets can be realized though policy changes rising from input at all levels including but not limited to: individuals, community stakeholders, transportation agencies, and elected officials [1] Livable Streets and Shared Streets are similar to Complete Streets, but prioritize the individual's life and sharing roads, respectively.

Complete Streets

The Complete Streets concept values the importance of designing and operating streets in order to provide safe and convenient access for all users [2]. First, Complete Street policies help urban and rural policy makers to make a commitment to Complete Streets [3]. Then, the design principles are formed and implemented according to the needs of the particular geographic area. According to Burden and Littman, this shifts the priority from transportation mobility to accessibility to desired good, services, and activities [4].

Design Manual

Typical Design Elements [3]

  • Wide sidewalks, safe crossings, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals
  • Curb extensions
  • Bicycle Lanes
  • Designated Bus Lanes
  • Shared use paths
  • Safe and Accessible transit stops
  • Bulleted list item

Livable streets and Shared Streets

Livable Streets are policies similar to Complete Streets in that they promote roads for different types of travel [5] [6]. Livable Streets has additional aims including:

  • Promote economic growth "without inviting gentrification of long time residents and businessess"
  • Transforming important streets into public spaces for walking, biking, and interaction.
  • Inviting people to interact with street furniture, public art, architecture and landscaping to promote the community's brand.
  • Sustaining and restoring environments by introducing infrastructure that catches rainwater and cleans runoff.
  • Encourage healthy and active transportation such as walking and biking and healthy lifestyles
  • Introduce traffic calming measures appropriate to the environment (e.g. in residential areas).

Transit's role in complete streets


  2. Complete Streets Manual. Publication no. CPC-2013.910.GPA.SP.CA.MSC. Los Angeles: Department of City Planning, 2014. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Smith, Robin, Sharlene Reed, and Shana Baker. "Street Design: Part Complete Streets." Public Roads 74.1 (2010)
  4. Burden, Dan, and Todd Litman. "America needs complete streets." ITE Journal 81.4 (2011): 36-43
  6. Bogert, Suzanne. "Living Streets Design Manual." Model Design Manual for Living Streets. LA County Department of Public Health, 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.