About the Issue

We all agree that people who drive, walk, run, bike, or ride a bus or train should all get to enjoy roads and paths designed to safely accommodate their travel. Luckily, cities across the nation have begun working toward making our streets safer and more convenient for everyone, no matter how they get around town, through implementing complete streets policies.

“Complete streets” is a term describing roads that allow safe and convenient travel for everyone who uses them and for all modes of transportation. These streets have street crossings, accessible sidewalks, and bicycle lanes that make it easy to walk to shops, bike to work, or cross the street to and from a bus stop. Complete streets policies are laws or resolutions that aim to create a safe transportation network for everyone by requiring that every future road construction and reconstruction project makes a street safe and comfortable for all users—kids, families, older adults, or people with disabilities—whether they are walking, pushing a stroller, using a wheelchair, riding a bike, driving a car, or taking public transportation.

Complete streets are safe, people-friendly, and support good health by making it easier and safer for people to be physically active while going around town. Complete streets design may offer many benefits to cities, including:

  • Fewer crashes and traffic injuries
  • Improved visibility of people walking and bicycling
  • Improved air quality
  • Improved friendliness of the street environment for walking, bicycling, shopping, waiting for the bus, chatting with neighbors, or playing
  • Improved connectivity amongst neighbors
  • Increased visibility for local business owners

Street-scale improvements, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and safe street crossings, also provide more opportunities to be physically active. Engaging in daily physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Increasing the opportunities to add physical activity into our daily routines also helps kids stay focused and do better in school. In fact, studies show that people who live in walkable neighborhoods generally get more physical activity each week and have a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers than those who live in neighborhoods that are less walkable. At a time when 75% of teens do not get enough physical activity, this is something we can all get behind.

Throughout this toolkit, you will find helpful information for building out your own advocacy efforts aimed at making your cities and neighborhoods more livable by ensuring all people get safely to where they need to go—work, school, the library, grocery store, or parks. Together, with our policy leaders, we can support streets built to share™.