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Planning for Bicycles: The Fight for Complete Streets | ...

Planning for Bicycles: The Fight for Complete Streets | #TheGlobalGrid Chat Recap

#TheGlobalGrid Twitter chat topic for National Bike Month addressed biking infrastructure in cities and how to best engage communities in implementing complete streets. The creation of new bike lanes in many cities is often faced with local opposition. Community members fear that the changes may hinder their mobility freedom and eventually disturb lifestyle patterns in

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#TheGlobalGrid Twitter chat topic for National Bike Month addressed biking infrastructure in cities and how to best engage communities in implementing complete streets. The creation of new bike lanes in many cities is often faced with local opposition. Community members fear that the changes may hinder their mobility freedom and eventually disturb lifestyle patterns in their neighborhoods.

Two experts joined us in an engaging conversation around this topic:

Our questions revolved around what approaches planners and cities could adopt to gain the support of their communities when devising complete streets plans. Here are the discussion’s main takeaways:

  1. “One size doesn't fit all when planning and designing complete streets”  

Each neighborhood is unique and has unique physical features and social structures. Density, land use, street width and pattern, traffic volume and speed are among the factors that should be considered when planning complete streets or implementing a road diet project in an existing neighborhood. Not least, the commitment of both the responsible agency and the local community play an important role in facilitating both the planning and the implementation of any transformations.

  1. Building consensus is key to gaining community support for complete streets projects

Defining the causes of traffic and mobility constraints is the first step of any complete streets project. A common understanding of the issues that the community aims to solve is critical to set the foundation for a fruitful debate about the potential solutions that complete streets offer. Without this common foundation, both planning and implementation processes will face delay and resistance as the discussion dwells on debating the political, conceptual and methodological basis of complete streets and Vision Zero.

  1. Creating new bike lanes should be part of a city-wide mobility plan

Bike lanes should be part of a network that covers and connects city neighborhoods, public transit hubs, and public amenities. The underlying goal is to improve the city’s overall accessibility and sustainability for the benefit of all residents. Underserved neighborhoods should especially benefit from an extended network of bike lanes. It is the planner’s role to engage the community and ensure that the planning and implementation process is inclusive and in line with the community’s vision and ambitions.

  1. Complete streets design is an evolving process

Temporary projects have the potential to harness community support and to bring on board reticent groups. They need, however, to be developed as a means to engage the community and to test a variety of proposals and ideas that contribute to the design development process. Designing complete streets should be a flexible and agile process that takes into consideration the context of each neighborhood - and most importantly - includes community feedback.

In addition to their exceptional insights, our panelists also shared some great examples of communities that have embraced complete streets and committed to making their streets safer and equitable.

Check all the examples and insights from the conversation in our Twitter moment.  

Did your city adopt a complete streets policy? Is the community involved in its implementation? Is there any opposition to these changes? Share your city experiences in the comments section.

We are going to break our Twitter chat series for the summer. Let us know what you thought of the topics that we discussed during the past five months and which topics you’d like to discuss with us again in fall. See you in September!

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Sarah Essbai is an architect, urban planner and independent researcher based in Zaandam, in The Netherlands. As of September 2017, she is leading the communications and marketing efforts of The Global Grid.

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