Those nutty New Yorkers have gone and done it again, this time proving that implementation of Complete Streets policies makes sense in terms of safety, transportation efficiency and economic prosperity. Complete Streets are those that are designed with attention to all users (cars, buses, bicycles, pedestrians, etc.) – and in New York City those streets are thriving.
Thoughtful redesign with specific uses and goals in mind can yield impressive results. The city of 8.2 million that never sleeps has given up 290 miles of driving lanes to cycling alone, and that’s before you count parking spots given up for sidewalk cafes, streets re-landscaped to calm traffic, and much, much more. Some New Yorkers balk, but the city is pitching results such as a 58% decrease in injuries to all street users with a concurrent 49% retail sales increase for the same area. Other redesigned areas boast dramatically decreased retail vacancies, increased pedestrian traffic, and increased bus efficiency and ridership.
Valley cities take note: a key aspect of New York’s example is that it renovated existing streets to spur neighborhood growth and sustainability. The real gold for complete streets policies lies right in front of our offices, retail districts and homes rather than in rules for new construction.
What’s the cost to complete a street? Perhaps one traffic lane, as contrasted by the costs of incomplete: injuries, death, individual health, and community vitality. Could we realize the same benefits in Arizona? To paraphrase Sinatra, “if complete streets can make it there, they’ll make it anywhere.”