Livability training takes to the streets
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:00 PM
"Complete Streets for Safe Mobility" was presented by Kim Irwin, Executive Director of Health by Design, at the recent Advocates for Livable Communities Training provided for local residents by Professors Sharon Baggett and Jennifer Todd. The mission of Health by Design is to create an environment that promotes physical activity and protects the environment through education, advocacy, and action.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, multi-issue political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement.
Health by Design partners with the Indiana State Department of Health, AARP, American Heart Association, YMCA, American Planning Association, Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors, Governor's Council for People with Disabilities, Bike advocacy groups, and the Indiana Association of Landscape Architects.
Complete streets are safe, comfortable and convenient for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorist and public transit riders, regardless of age or abilities. Complete streets serve the 1/3 of Hoosiers who do not drive.
Irwin cited six examples of complete street elements. Countdown timer indicates amount of time pedestrians have to cross. Crawfordsville is fortunate to have countdown timers on Washington and other streets at several intersections. Lighting increases personal safety and makes pedestrians more visible to drivers. Raised median island provides buffer and protection for pedestrians while crossing wide or busy streets. Bike Lane established space on road exclusively for bicycle travel. Marked Crosswalk uses a visual cue to designate space for pedestrian crossings and alert drivers to priority crossing areas. Transit shelters protects waiting transit users from the elements.
Complete streets are designed for safety noting that everyone is a pedestrian. All users must be able to safely move along and across a complete street!
Irwin stated that complete streets are feasible in every community, have a multitude of benefits and are necessary for our health and well-being. She detailed the advantages of developing Complete Street policies to ensure people have options by routinely addressing the needs of all users, to save time and money, help avoid missed opportunities, and to provide a basis for new funding.
According to Irwin, Complete Streets policies now cover 36 percent of Hoosiers, including cities of Columbus, Richmond, Frankfort, Indianapolis, Westfield and metropolitan planning organizations of Bloomington/Monroe County, Madison County, Northwest Indiana, Evansville, and Tippecanoe County.
Among many reasons to adopt Complete Street policies, Irwin stated that "money can be saved in the long run. Retrofit projects always cost more than getting it right in the first time." She emphasized that Complete Street policies can ensure smart investment saving money with better design and implementing highly effective measures at low cost.
Complete Streets encourage healthier lifestyles. 2008 National Household Travel Survey reported that of all trips in the United States, 50 percent are under 3 miles, 28 percent are one mile or less, and 72 percent of trips one mile or less are driven.
Surveys indicate that Americans do want to walk and bike more. Millennials and baby boomers support: walkability, connectivity, access and choice. According to the National Association of Realtors, "The next generation of homebuyers wants transportation options in vibrant communities."
Irwin concluded noting that safe streets can encourage community interaction and improve quality of life for all ages and abilities.
As Crawfordsville and Montgomery County officials plan for new and improvements on existing streets and sidewalks, consideration of Complete Street policies can be of benefit to all members of our community.