Complete Streets

Introduction

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Manatee County, in partnership with the Manatee County Health Department (MCHD), is in the process of developing a countywide Complete Streets policy.  The policy guidelines and recommendations will be presented in the form of amendments to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, Land Development Code, and Public Works Design Standards.

 

In March 2012, MCHD was awarded a Power of Policy grant from the American Public Health Association, to be used through February 2013, specifically for Complete Streets policy planning and development.  All funding will go towards compensating a planning and engineering consultant with Renaissance Planning Group.  The consultant, with the support of a multi-sector workgroup, is responsible for gathering data, drafting recommendations for future Complete Streets projects, and creating policy language to be presented to the Board of County Commissioners for approval.  (See Scope of Work and Timeline for more details.)

 

Defining Complete Streets

Complete Streets are roadways designed to enable safe access for all users: motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities.

 

Local transportation planners and engineers may use a Complete Streets Policy to consider safety and accessibility for all users whenever developing or reconstructing roadways.  The policy may call for retrofitting, meaning that existing roadways must undergo renovations to become complete streets, or the policy can be prospective, adding a clause to the city or county transportation department’s strategic plan that requires all future roadways to be constructed as complete streets. 

 

However, a less comprehensive policy (i.e. one that does not include retrofitting) can still produce great benefits to the community.

 

Importance of Complete Streets

Complete Streets make roadways safer and more accessible for all users, which is important for improving traffic flow, public health, and local economy.  Complete Streets contribute to injury prevention through reduced traffic accidents involving motorists, cyclists, and/or pedestrians; obesity prevention through increased opportunity for safe physical activity; and environmental health through reduced air pollution.  Complete Streets help local businesses by increasing foot traffic, opening sidewalks for vendor use, and improving community capacity for commerce.  They also improve community connections by bringing more people outdoors and on the streets.  (STATS)

Manatee County Complete Streets Workgroup

In 2012, Manatee County Health Department (MCHD) formed a Complete Streets Workgroup to support the project.  Many entities within the county in various sectors and interest groups already support and encourage elements of Complete Streets as part of their own missions.  MCHD brought representatives from these organizations, and others, to serve on this workgroup.

 

As a public health entity, MCHD is concerned with promoting the health of county residents and employees.  Complete Streets policies are proven effective for improving health, in terms of obesity prevention and increased opportunity for exercise, injury prevention, and improved environmental health and air quality.  Transportation planners are interested in improving traffic flow.  Public health professionals want to keep residents safe, healthy, and active. The Sheriff’s Office and Fire Districts would like to see fewer traffic crashes, particularly those that involve pedestrians and cyclists.  Manatee County School Board supports efforts that will keep their students safe while going to and from school, whether they walk or bike to school, ride the public school bus, or are driven by a parent. Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) is responsible for public transportation, and will benefit from improvements in access to bus stations.  Bicycle and pedestrian advocates are in need of safe, accessible trails and roadways on which to ride or walk, particularly those that lead to specific destinations.  The Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning organization focuses on goals and objectives that support Complete Streets through improvements in traffic flow and safety.

 

The workgroup meets monthly with the consultant to discuss priorities, challenges and solutions, and next steps needed to complete the policy process within the APHA funding period (by February 2013).

 

 

Timeline

The funding period for this project runs from April 2012 through February 2013.  Manatee County’s goal is to present the policy language to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners in December 2012 for approval.  Once approved by the County, the policy will go through a 6-8 month approval process to make official amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, Land Development Code, and Public Works Design Standards.  The final step in the policy approval process will be a public hearing in Manatee County.

 

The process of becoming a fully compliant Complete Streets community can take many years, as each construction project can be time-consuming and costly.  Project implementation may begin as early as January 2013, however, with a pilot project to establish signage along U.S. 41 to designate alternate bike routes on parallel, less trafficked roadways.  Projects will continue to be implemented as funding allows, based on financial opportunities primarily from Florida Department of Transportation and Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

 

Maps

These GIS maps, created by the consultant, show crash data gathered by Manatee County Public Works, land use, school and park locations, transit routes, and popular bicycle and pedestrian trails and routes, and the corridors that will be studied further during a sidewalk inventory.  The inventory will document sidewalk width, compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, and hindrances to safe use, as well existence and quality of bike lanes and public transit stops, where available.  Results of the sidewalk inventory will allow for the consultant to further narrow the policy recommendations to the roadways and neighborhoods that are most in need and most suitable for change.

 

 

Resources

National Complete Streets Coalition

Introduction to Complete Streets: Presentation

Complete Streets Video

Smart Growth America

Complete Streets Model Policies

APHA Power of Policy Grant

Florida Safe Routes to Schools

USA Today News Article on FL Injuries and Fatalities

New York Times News Article on FL Injuries and Fatalities

Herald-Tribune News Article

Tampa Bay Times News Article

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Report on Walking

Creating Great Streets: Interview

Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization

Manatee County Area Transit

Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club

Suncoast Striders Walking and Running Club

Florida Department of Transportation

Complete Streets:  Policy Analysis 2011

 

Contacts

Marissa Sheldon, Health Promotion Specialist, Manatee County Health Department

Marissa_Sheldon@doh.state.fl.us

941-748-0747 ext. 1406

 

John Osborne, Planning and Zoning Official, Manatee County Building and Development Services Department

John.Osborne@mymanatee.org

941-748-4501 ext. 6825

 

Vishal Kakkad, Trafic Design Division Manager, Manatee County Public Works

Vishal.Kakkad@mymanatee.org

941-748-4501 ext. 7812

Link to Public Works Transportation Planning Website