How sharing the road makes it easier for everyone to get around

Guest Author:
Patrice Gillespie Smith
NEAT Streets Miami, Parks Recreation and Open Spaces

Motorists sometimes assume sharing the road with other modes contributes to congestion, yet the implementation of Complete Streets across the nation has proved just the opposite.  Creating streets that move people, rather than just cars helps move all modes of transportation.  It isn’t “us” v. “them” conflict between cars and bikes, rather a “we” discussion.  To help engineers and planners figure out how to meet the needs of all road users, Neat Streets Miami led the development of Miami-Dade County’s Complete Streets Guidelines.   Through this resource, street designers can tackle tough decisions about how to efficiently allocate their rights-of-way. Incorporating the latest tips from groups such as the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) with our state and federal transportation standards, the Complete Streets Guidelines identify ways for practitioners to calm traffic, bring order to the road and create safer access for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.

The Guidelines breaks down each road segment: the sidewalk, the traveled way and the intersection, to identify methods of moving people.  They also incorporate emerging trends such as Transportation Network Entities and the SMART Plan.  Throughout the public engagement for the Guidelines, residents, planners and city leaders told us they want to offer alternatives to driving—especially in instances where residents can reach destinations within 1 mile of their home.  Can you imagine the impact on congestion if we could remove even half of all of these trips?  In surveys, the majority of the population indicates an interest in biking and walking more if they only felt safe doing so. Armed with the Complete Streets Guidelines, our communities have the tools needed to create safer streets.  We know this change won’t happen overnight, but are hopeful the Guidelines help communities make informed decisions and move beyond the car v. pedestrian discussion.