Kansas City region includes Complete Streets in Long Range Plan

Complete Streets logo
Complete Streets logo
The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), the metropolitan planning organization and council of governments representing the greater Kansas City region, has recently updated its long range plan, Transportation Outlook 2040.

Citizens and bicycle and pedestrian advocates, including the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, have encouraged MARC to accelerate the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian elements in the plan, particularly including Complete Streets and Context Sensitive Design.

Complete Streets is the principle that all roadway planning, design, construction, and maintenance should include consideration of the needs of those who bicycle, walk, and use transit, the able and the disabled, and the young and the old.

Context Sensitive Design is the idea that transportation planning should take into consideration the place and situation that it is in--a street in the middle of a large city should look and function differently than one in a suburb, one in a small town, or one in a sparsely populated area.  Each street will look and work in a way that is specific to its context.

MARC staff and the representatives of area governments and citizens who participated in the long range planning process and on MARC committees have done and excellent job of synthesizing these concept and integrating them into the region's long-range transportation goals.

For instance, Transportation Outlook 2040 has included Complete Streets as one of the six Major Strategies in its overall Policy Framework:

  • Promote nonmotorized transportation options
    • Require transportation investments consider and include accommodations for all appropriate users, including bicycle, pedestrian and transit users.
    • Work with MARC transportation committees and local stakeholders to create a policy for multimodal design considerations to support MARC’s planning and programming processes. (Page 5)
Several goals, objectives, and strategies relating to Complete Streets and Context Sensitive Design were included in sections of Transportation Outlook 2040 where they were appropriate.  These include:
  •  "Implement complete streets." (Page 6)
  •  "Provide incentives for roadway projects that improve access for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users of all ages and abilities (e.g., Complete Streets)." (Page 6)
  • INTEGRATE CONTEXT SENSITIVE SOLUTIONS. Promote and adopt the concepts of context-sensitive solutions and complete streets in the region's transportation planning, project development and project selection processes. (Page 11)
  • Implement complete streets. (Page 12)

The Active Transportation section includes a long section outlining these concepts and their aims:

Complete Streets and Context Sensitive Solutions
There is a national trend to consider the needs of all potential users in designing transportation corridors. This multimodal approach is often known as Complete Streets. Another complementary trend is to design transportation facilities to respect the surrounding urban and natural environment. This trend is called Context Sensitive Solutions. Similar movements such as Green Streets and Sustainable Streets have emerged with environmental themes. The USDOT supports fully intergrated active transportation networks in the Policy Statement1 on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations. In addition, DOT encourages transportation agencies to go beyond the minimum requirements, and proactively provide convenient, safe, and context sensitive facilities that foster increased use by bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, and utilize universal design characteristics when appropriate.

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, "complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.A complete streets policy would ensure that transportation project sponsors routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users: Places with complete drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists, as well as for older people, children, and people with disabilities." (Source: www.completestreets.org)
According to the Federal Highway Administration, "[Context Sensitive Solutions] CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility."

SAFETEA LU Section 6008.Section 109(c) (2) of title 23, USC includes consideration of identified documents and materials that define the core principles of context sensitive solutions by eight "Characteristics of the process that yield excellence" and seven "Qualities that characterize excellence in transportation design." (FHWA, Source: www.fhwa.dot.gov/context/ )

These concepts of modal equity within street design could enable broad transportation choices and should be considered for both regional and local policy implementation. USDOT's Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations encourages transportation agencies to adopt policy statements on bicycle and pedestrian accomdation as an indication of their commitment accommdating nonmotorized transportation as an integral element of the transportation system. In addition, USDOT encourages transportation agencies to consider walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation mode. (Pages 6-7)

Transportation Outlook 2040 deals extensively with bicycle and pedestrian issues beyond Complete Streets and Context Sensitive Solutions throughout the document and particularly in the Active Transportation chapter. In general it is a huge step forward towards accommodation of bicyclists and pedestrians in the metropolitan area.

Complete Streets in Missouri
Missouri now has ten municipalities or agencies that have adopted Complete Streets policies--five of them in 2010.

Seven cities have adopted Complete Streets policies (Columbia, De Soto, Ferguson, Crystal City, St. Louis, Festus, and Lee's Summit).

Among Councils of Governments in Missouri (Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Commissions), the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (St Louis region) and the St Joseph Area Transportation Study Organization have also adopted Complete Streets policies as part of their long-range planning processes.

Increasing the number of Complete Streets policies in Missouri is one of the top goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

MoDOT has been tracking Missourians attitudes towards accommodating bicycling and walking, and their current research shows that a majority of Missourians support adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities to projects--even if the cost is up to 25% of the project, diverting funds from other projects to do so.

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