Complete Streets

RELATED TOPICS: Plan Development, Transit, Connected Multimodal Networks

Complete streets are designed to enable safe and convenient access for all road users and foster transportation equity, healthy lifestyles, and vibrant communities. Complete streets incorporate context sensitive solutions, so each one is unique. Design features of a complete street may include sidewalks, bicycle lanes, crosswalks, raised crosswalks, medians, bus pullouts, special bus lanes, audible pedestrian signals, sidewalk bulb-outs, and more. Complete streets in rural areas can look quite different from those in urban areas; however, both are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone.

In 2015, the United States government passed the first Federal transportation bill that referred to complete streets. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires state DOTs to account for all potential users of the roadways in their designs and design alternatives. This is reinforced by a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) memorandum that supports a flexible approach to bicycle and pedestrian facility design, including the use of design guides like the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Street Design Guide. Complete Streets policies are in place across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. While complete streets policies have gained popularity, more than 40 percent of the adopted policies are non-binding resolutions, and there is still a need to focus on implementation by incorporating complete streets into regulations and design standards.


The National Complete Streets Coalition of Smart Growth America serves as a leading organization on the topic of complete streets and hosts a number of resources, tools and examples to help agencies develop streets that work for everyone.

Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A Guide for Practitioners discusses why and how to use performance metrics to assess project through a complete streets lens.

Strategies for Accelerating Multimodal Project Delivery gives ways to mitigate challenges and delays in the project development process for a complete street.

FHWA Report to Congress: Moving to a Complete Streets Design Model: A Report to Congress on Opportunities and Challenges details efforts to advance Complete Streets as its approach for funding and designing the majority of Federally funded roads to improve safety and accessibility for all road users.

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Complete Streets Transformations provides six examples of how to apply a Complete Streets Implementation Strategy to transform arterials that pose significant safety, connectivity, and equity challenges.

The Complete Streets Policy Atlas tracks policy adoption and implementation nationwide.

Boston Complete Streets showcases design standards and guidelines for implementing the City's complete streets policy.

Case Studies in Realizing Co-Benefits of Multimodal Roadway Design and Gray and Green Infrastructure gives 14 cases of complete street projects that also improved stormwater systems.

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