Designing a Complete Street

Redesigning existing or new street.

Complete Streets take many forms.  Each Complete Street is unique and responds to its community context.  A Complete Street in a rural area may look very different from it’s urban or suburban counterparts.  Nonetheless, each are designed and operated to be safe for all permitted users and convenient for all future likely users.  The National Complete Streets Coalition has a slide show of Complete Streets, some of which may be surprising.

Designing complete streets is much more than a pen and paper exercise.  There are five basic elements to good complete street design these are as follows:

1.  Assembling the Design Team
2.  Defining the Context
3.  Identifying the Goals and Objectives
4.  Assessing the Design Standards and Trade-offs
5.  All the while ensuring that the public is engaged

This guide will summarize each of these five elements providing links to some of our favorite resources. 

designing

 

Assembling the design team is, in some respects, an iterative process with ‘Defining the Context’.  In small, rural jurisdictions the team may be simply the planner and engineer.  In larger, urban and suburban areas the core membership may be much larger.  The core of a large team could include a project manager and a complete streets point person as well as representation from Engineering, Planning. Public works (maintenance) and Public safety.  This larger team might also be comprised of occasional representation from modal organizations representing likely users such as public transit, cyclists, freight haulers, businesses, and people with disabilities.  Click here for a list of regional Complete Streets contacts.

Defining the Context includes both the land use context and the transportation context—both current and future.  The guidance provided by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities links “Context Zones”, predominant land use, functional type and thoroughfare type and provides design guidance based upon the intermixing of these contexts.   

Local and regional plans can provide the practitioner with guidance with regard to the future land use and transportation context.  Regional Plans for portions of Box Elder, Weber, as well as Davis and Salt Lake Counties  can be accessed [hot link  Here]

Identifying Goals and Objectives coming to goals and objectives can be done through several approaches, some or all can be employed.  These approaches include:

a.Consulting local and regional plans. Regional Plans for portions of Box Elder, Weber, as well as Davis and Salt Lake Counties can be accessed
b.A review of Complete Streets Benefits may also be helpful
c.Using a checklist to guide your thought processes.  An example of a checklist is that of New Jersey Department of Transportation.  For a sampling of checklists available nationally  click here.

CHECKLISTS

•= Useful checklists for cities that do not have multimodal plans or a street classification system in place
** = More extensive checklists; useful for cities with multimodal plans and updated design guidelines

Model Checklist Templates:

**Chapter 5, Processes: Implementing the Complete Streets Network (Active Transportation Alliance; see pages 190-202)
Sample comprehensive complete streets checklist that can be downloaded and modified in Microsoft Word format

CHECKLISTS for Concept Development:

New Haven Complete Streets Design Manual, Appendix A: Project Request Form (New Haven, CT)
Simple form for communities to request complete streets projects

*A Guide to Creating a Complete Streets Implementation Plan, Appendix A: Concept development checklist (New Jersey DOT)

*Active Living Design Checklist (Hennepin County, MN)
Checklist was developed as a model for local jurisdictions

*Active Neighborhoods Checklist (Washington University)
Takes a comprehensive look at how the built and natural environments impact active transportation (including bicycling, walking and public transit use) Checklist may be completed by community stakeholders or staff

CHECKLISTS for Scoping/preliminary engineering checklists:

*A Guide to Creating a Complete Streets Implementation Plan, Appendix A: Preliminary engineering checklist(New Jersey DOT)

**Scoping checklist (Pennsylvania DOT; pgs 3-5)
Checklist for bicycle and pedestrian project elements only

**Complete Streets Checklist (Seattle, WA)
Projects are reviewed checklist at 30, 60, and 90 percent design

CHECKLISTS For Final design checklists:

*Final design checklist (Pennsylvania DOT; pgs 6-7)
Checklist for bicycle and pedestrian project elements only

Checklist for Compliance with Hennepin County Complete Streets Policy (Hennepin County, MN)
Can be used for preliminary or detail design

**Complete Streets Checklist (Seattle, WA; see above)

CHECKLISTS for developers and/or land use design:

**Complete Streets Project Review Checklist (Philadelphia, PA)
Created primarily for development review

Standards are prevalent throughout the street design community however, often what is overlooked are the variety of standards available and the flexibility inherent in the standards.  [Click here for a sampling of street standards and guidance by mode]

Three tools appear to stand out in respect to ease of use and information available:

Pedsafe  & Bikesafe Countermeasures tool by FHWA

Both PEDSAFE and BIKESAFE has a Countermeasure Selection Tool which allows the practitioner to input data on specific roadways and goals for the desired change in the facility.  The tool then outputs different countermeasures, including engineering designs, which can be implemented in order to achieve the desired goal.  The sites each house a Crash Type Matrix, a Performance Objective Matrix, and Case Studies, including cost ranges for implementing Countermeasures and actual costs for Case Study projects. 
http://www.pedbikesafe.org/PEDSAFE/
http://www.pedbikesafe.org/BIKESAFE/
StreetPlan

StreetPlan is a web-based, interactive street design dialogue tool to surmount barriers inherent to street design communications.

It is to be built in three phases.  The first phase is primarily a simple cross-section builder.  It is simple, free and relatively easy for anyone to use.

A common use of StreetPlan 1.0 is to facilitate a group in exploring street cross-section design alternatives in the context of the available rights-of-way through a three step process:

  1. 1.  Prior to the meeting the facilitator “builds” the current street cross-section entering the correct right-of-way and curb-to-curb widths and copies and renames the current cross-section as alternative 1, alternative 2, etc.
  2. 2.  At the meeting the facilitator leads the discussion of the future street context, modal priorities, and the street functional class and thoroughfare types using, among other things, the dialog box accessed by clicking on the blue street title.
  3. 3.  Finally, she projects StreetPlan in ‘comparison-view’ onto a large screen and modifies each of the alternatives as guided by the group.  Multiple alternatives can be made and compared to each other and to the ‘current’ cross-section in this way.  The selected alternative can be renamed as ‘consensus’, saved, printed, published to the web at will. 

StreetPlan 1.0 dispenses with the need to build a design consensus with static graphics or guidance.  If the target street widths are exceeded StreetPlan tells you.  No need to let the consensus ‘grow cold’ over time while graphics are prepared for review and publication.  Review is ‘live’ and publication is at the users’ fingertips. 

Although the dialog box is currently simple and should be supplemented by other sources, it adds to the discussion will be greatly upgraded in future StreetPlan versions.  Also in future versions will be the ability to ‘draw’ the cross-sections longitudinally on Google Earth. 

Bicycle and Pedestrian

Transit

General

Legal and Liability Concerns:

It is highly recommended that Complete Streets practitioners consult both local community plans as well as Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The RTP is the official plan for all regionally significant transit and road projects for the urbanized areas of Weber, Davis and Salt Lake Counties.  No regionally significant road or transit project can be constructed or receive federal or corridor preservation funding without being in the RTP.  RTP projects are considered placeholder projects in the sense that specific project details are determined in corridor specific studies.  Nonetheless, the RTP is a good source of information when considering the transportation projects planned for your community. 

Regional Road Plans

Regional road plans in defining the future transportation context.  Proposed regionally significant road projects along with a listing of project segments to be built in what RTP phase can be found below:   

Map: http://www.wfrc.org/publications/Adopted_2011_2040_RTP/Adopted_RTP_Highway_type_phase.pdf

Project list: http://www.wfrc.org/publications/Adopted_2011_2040_RTP/2040%20REGIONAL%20TRANSPORTATION%20PLAN%20-%20HIGHWAY%20PROJECT%20LISTS%206-30-11.pdf

The draft, needs based 2015-2040 RTP is as follows:

Map: http://wfrc.org/publications/2015_2040_RTP/FINAL%202015-2040%20Preferred%20Scenario%20-%20Highway%20Map.pdf

Project list: http://wfrc.org/publications/2015_2040_RTP/FINAL%202015-2040%20Preferred%20Scenario%20-%20Highway%20Project%20List.pdf

The list provides current and planned through lanes and the streets’ functional class.  Operation Improvements are projects that improve the flow or safety of a street without adding an additional automobile through lane. 

Regional Transit Plan for street context.  Proposed, regionally significant transit projects in the adopted RTP are mapped and listed below:     http://www.wfrc.org/publications/Adopted_2011_2040_RTP/2040%20RTP%20Transit%20Project%20Type%20Map%20with%20List.pdf   

Transit projects proposed for the upcoming RTP are mapped below:

http://wfrc.org/publications/2015_2040_RTP/FINAL%202015-2040%20Preferred%20Scenario%20-%20Transit%20Map.pdf

A full description of each transit mode, a list of each project, and maps of the projects planned for each of the funded and unfunded phases starts on page 177 within the following link:

http://www.wfrc.org/publications/Adopted_2011_2040_RTP/Chapter%207%20-%20Planned%20Improvements.pdf

Existing and future local buses are not shown in these documents but should be assumed on all major streets.

Regional Bike Plan

The 2015-2040 RTP bike map shows locally desired regional bike facilities.  These facilities are not tied to specific funding streams and are therefore not assigned to RTP phases.

Map: http://wfrc.org/publications/2015_2040_RTP/FINAL%202015-2040%20Preferred%20Scenario%20-%20Bike%20Priority%20with%20Comments.pdf

Regional Walkability

The map link below is a draft of Walkable Street Priority Locations.  The map shows locally desired areas to be prioritized for walkability.  These facilities are not tied to specific funding streams and are therefore not assigned to RTP phases.

Map:  Under Construction 

Regional Freight

The map link below shows select streets that link regionally significant freight centers with the freeway system.  It is recommended that freight friendly design be of particular consideration on these road segments.

Map:  Under Construction 

Regional Vision for future land use context

It is recommended that the Complete Streets practitioner reference this vision when considering the future context of the street for which they are designing. However, the practitioner should also be aware of more specific community plans in understanding street land use context.  Brief descriptions of these vision centers and communities is provided in the right margins of the Vision Poster, below:

http://www.wfrc.org/wasatch_choice_for_2040/FinalPoster_TheWasatchChoice2040_Apr2012a_Update_small.pdf

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities provides an encompassing guide for planning and implementing Complete Streets. 

Although the title of the manual focuses on urban solutions, the context of rural and suburban communities when implementing complete streets is also considered in chapter __.   Among the most notable chapters are Chapter 8: Roadside Design Guidelines which assists in roadside zone identification and Chapter 9:  Traveled Way Design Guidelines which provides design guidance on elements of the traveled way including medians, bicycle lanes, and midblock crossings. 

http://www.ite.org/bookstore/RP036.pdf

The Federal Highway Administration has two web tools to assist in improving walking and biking safety.  Both PEDSAFE and BIKESAFE has a Countermeasure Selection Tool which allows the practitioner to input data on specific roadways and goals for the desired change in the facility.  The tool then outputs different countermeasures, including engineering designs, which can be implemented in order to achieve the desired goal.  The sites each house a Crash Type Matrix, a Performance Objective Matrix, and Case Studies, including cost ranges for implementing Countermeasures and actual costs for Case Study projects.   These sites are as follows:

http://www.pedbikesafe.org/PEDSAFE/
http://www.pedbikesafe.org/BIKESAFE
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