"Complete Streets" Not a Partisan Concept

The affluent Atlanta satellite city of Dunwoody recently approved a plan to convert a lightly used, four-lane road through a dated retail development into a two-lane, signature street, complete with sidewalks and bike lanes. The plan is designed to attract mixed-use development with office, residential, and street-front retail. This has prompted outrage from folks clinging to the concept of "capacity enhancement," meaning a preference for roads that are bigger and wider.

One complainant, in a letter to the community newspaper, equated the plan with a left-wing conspiracy.

"Compliments of the Dunwoody City Council, we now have George Soros here in Dunwoody. The Dunwoody Village Parkway master plan is essentially a cookie cutter version of the master plans advocated by the Soros founded organization ICLEI that include his leftist agenda of complete streets, sustainable growth, parkway apartments and MARTA type grants that enable central planning or federal control."

I wouldn't dare jump into Dunwoody's local politics, but I will defend the concept of "complete streets" as good for residents, businesses, and communities as a whole. An advocacy group called Smart Growth America coined the term "complete streets" in 2003 to refer to streets designed to accommodate bikes and pedestrians, not just cars, as they had for decades.

While it's true that the group's members also support preservation initiatives that might be categorized as "liberal," the standalone concept of "complete streets" should be decidedly non-partisan. The National Complete Streets Coalition, founded in 2005, is backed by trade and advocacy groups representing seniors, city planners, and architects. It supports local, state, and federal policies that encourage new developments to blend the needs of cars, pedestrians, and cyclers. For every person who decides to reach his destination by bike or on foot, that's one fewer car clogging the street, which benefits everyone.

Complete streets is a simple concept that deserves better than to be mired in a debate over political ideology.

Read more about the "National Complete Streets Coalition" here:


Posted in Beyond Parking on Oct 31, 2012

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