A Model Policy for Complete Streets

As part of our efforts at the state level to support active transportation, BikeWalkKC works with the group Missourians for Responsible Transportation (MRT). MRT works to “develop strong communities by aligning local and regional advocacy efforts for streets, roads, and trails that work for all Missourians” and we do that in collaboration with partners from Trailnet in St. Louis, PedNet Coalition in Columbia, and Ozark Greenways in Springfield.

In addition to our advocacy work in the Kansas City region, we have also been working with a number of rural communities on ways to improve active transportation. Leaders from these communities have increasingly recognized the health, safety, and economic benefits of supporting more walking and biking. More and more frequently, we are asked, “What policies can we adopt to support these efforts?”

Enter the Complete Streets Model Policy.

How does the Model Work?
Complete Streets are streets that are designed and operated to ensure safe access for all users. With this idea in mind, BikeWalkKC set out to develop a model policy template that these communities could use. Click here to view our Model Policy for Municipalities.

This model can be adapted and used by communities to develop their own Complete Streets policy. It is designed for a community to easily make simple modifications to create an ideal policy for themselves.

Importantly, Complete Streets policies are most effective when they are adopted as ordinances by municipalities instead of as resolutions. We strongly encourage the adoption of ordinances instead of resolutions because resolutions typically do not go far enough in ensuring the principles of Complete Streets will be carried out in implementation. A resolution typically states support for something, while an ordinance tends to go further in terms of explanations and implementation.

A Policy in Line with Regional and National Experts
BikeWalkKC developed this language with a great deal of assistance from the National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC); their Complete Streets Policy Elements outlines the key elements of an effective Complete Streets policy. We fine-tuned the language to more closely align with those key elements. The NCSC have used these elements to grade policies adopted elsewhere.

In addition, we received input from the Mid-America Regional Council on elements related to sustainability and performance measures related to safety.

After several rounds of vetting and modification, we developed a policy that received a perfect score from the National Complete Streets Coalition. You can check out the grade breakdown here.

From Paper to the Pavement
Perhaps the most exciting part of this template is that it isn’t just sitting on the shelf: this template is being used to advance Complete Streets legislation.

Two of the rural communities that originally requested the template, Lincoln and Rogersville, have adopted legislation based on the template. In addition, the City of Westwood is currently in the process of developing a Complete Streets ordinance based on the model and will likely adopt the legislation later this spring.

Conclusion
We are very excited about this model and the promise it holds for communities across the metro to make streets that are for everyone, regardless of their preferred mode of transportation.

If you would like to know more about the Complete Streets Policy Model and how it can be used for your community, please contact Michael Kelley, policy manager, at michael.kelley@bikewalkkc.org.

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