Ask New York City’s Transportation Commissioner about streets, and she’ll tell you they’re “an asset hidden in plain sight.” Janette Sadik-Khan, who just recently spoke in Phoenix at the NACTO Designing Cities Regional Conference 2013, gives compelling examples in her October 2013 Ted Talk of just how quick, inexpensive and transformational the development of “Complete Streets” can be.
The term Complete Streets refers to streets intentionally designed and built to ensure safe, welcoming use for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and public transit – building public space, defining neighborhoods and boosting business in the process.
For Sadik-Khan and New York it started with paint, temporary materials and testing that produced extraordinary results in terms of nearly immediate user adoption, business support and economic growth. For Phoenix in the coming months, it starts with consideration of a model Complete Streets Policy Draft developed by the Phoenix Complete Streets Working Group that SLHI began convening in December of 2012. Using national best practices, the team formulated a draft and also developed a Complete Streets Guide. The Working Group is currently partnering with the City to vet the draft with both city staff and Village Planning Committees before bringing it up for City Council consideration in the Spring of 2014.
Streets are a city’s chief connector of people as well as its lifeblood – to the point that key streets are often referred to as “arterials.” Phoenix’s 4,500 miles of roads already have a profound influence on how well we live and how healthy we can be. Imagine what happens when we start intentionally tapping that asset to improve city life and resident health.