Roads are a major component of the transportation system in Hampton Roads. It is of no surprise that people have debated as to which pieces of roads are more important than others (e.g., bicycle lanes vs. traffic lanes). However, these debates may not be necessary utilizing a Complete Streets transportation policy.
Complete Streets are roadway systems that accommodate all users and all transportation modes. These streets are designed to provide additional safety, access, mobility, and convenience to drivers, transit users, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Conventional methods of designing roads work from the inside out with the primary focus on providing access to cars. The addition of facilities for alternate transportation modes, such as biking and walking, is often a secondary purpose under these conventional road design methods. Under a Complete Streets policy, bicycle and pedestrian facilities are a first priority because these roads are designed from the outside in.
In Hampton Roads, the City of Virginia Beach recently adopted a Complete Streets policy in late 2014. Other localities in the region have expressed interest in developing and adopting a Complete Streets policy as a goal in their comprehensive plans. As a step in the right direction, the Portsmouth Health Department and the City of Portsmouth cosponsored a Complete Streets Policy Development Workshop held on July 7, 2015. National experts Philip Pugliese, Active Living & Transportation Network and Jeffery Riegner, PE, AICP, PTOE, Vice President, Whitman, Requardt & Associates led the interactive workshop where participants learned about the elements of effective Complete Streets policies and practice, highlighting transportation on health and community goals. Participants identified Complete Street goals and performance measures specifically for Portsmouth. The workshop ended with a discussion of next steps to create an effective Complete Streets policy for Portsmouth.
Complete Streets policies offer a more comprehensive way to incorporate various travel modes in roadway design, thus providing improved access to all users of the transportation system.
1San Francisco Department of Public Works. (2013). Potrero Streetscape Improvements Section Elevations. Retrieved from http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/07/31/some-residents-urge-city-to-make-bolder-safety-upgrades-on-potrero/