Complete Streets at the State Level
Last week, I attended the State of Michigan’s Complete Streets Advisory Council (MI-CS) meeting held in Lansing. This group consists of 18-representatives (MDOT) representing different stakeholder groups. They are tasked with making policy recommendations to the State Transportation Commission by the beginning of the summer in order for that commission to have time to enact complete streets policy by August 2012.
Although a bit wonky, this is critical work. The policy created will go into effect across the state influencing the process for construction and re-constructing of roadways by MDOT, road commissions and engineering departments. Afterwards, communities will still have trouble spots in the public right of ways, but they will have an additional, and I trust persuasive, state policy tool to implement projects that put safety and place as paramount, as opposed to simply moving cars at high speeds.
At the meeting, there was some confusion amongst the council about what complete streets actually are and what it means. For instance, some representatives were concerned that it meant every road needs to have a bike lane. Or, that the state will be forcing communities to implement sidewalks without fully understanding the specifics at the local units. This isn’t the intention of the law.
Key to that progress is the fundamental realization that complete streets policy is about redefining the process to include planning and design aimed at accommodating all users in the context of a transportation network that works within the character of place. In short, designing streets that make a place better and serve more needs than simply being places for people to drive through.
The advisory council is still finding its way (aren’t we all). They meet again in April and public comment to help them reach a shared vision is encouraged. I made an un-prepared public comment at the meeting and will send a follow-up email soon. I’m working on a draft of what I will send that I will post here tomorrow morning.
I encourage readers to send the advisory council a quick message at the following email:
A few things they need to hear:
- The impact safer and more inviting streets will have for you and your community.
- Why redesigning our approach to public right of ways is important for future needs.
- Tell them a story.
- Traverse City to Consider Complete Streets Resolution (MyWHaT)
- Complete Streets: Connected Communities (Grand Vision)
- Michigan Complete Streets Coalition (MI-CS)
Contributions greatly appreciated.