Cook County approves Complete Streets

Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a new Complete Streets ordinance.

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, this ordinance is one of the strongest county policies in the country. The policy demonstrates a commitment to change while continuing the county's legacy of multi-modal transportation planning, construction and facility operation.

Not only is the policy exemplary, but the process was inclusive by engaging staff at all levels, elected officials and other stakeholders. The process is a model for other jurisdictions seeking Complete Streets policies. Cook County joins more than 300 jurisdictions in the nation that have advanced Complete Streets.

Active Transportation Alliance thanks Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Cook County departments of highways and public health for their strong support of the policy.

Thanks also to the National Complete Streets Coalition for its assistance and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin for sponsoring the ordinance.

 

Uh, what is "Complete

Uh, what is "Complete Streets?"

Complete Streets

That's a good question!  Sorry, we can be a little wonky and forget that not everyone reading our blog is in the field.

Complete streets doesn't directly change existing infrastructure. Rather, new work and repairs/rebuilding must now accommodate all users.  This doesn't necessarily mean bike lanes everywhere a new road is built or one is repaired. But the new work will account for all users - safe crossing for pedestrians, a shoulder for cyclists, etc.  It does mean that multilane arterials through developed areas - designed for 60 mph with a posted limit of 30 - especially dense residential and commercial districts, like Dearborn, Western, north Broadway, Ashland, or Ridge ( between Peterson and Bryn Mawr) are a relic of the past and hopefully will be gradually phased out.  

This new ordinance is really groundbreaking because most road safety issues stem from the built environment. People don't speed because they're bad people (well, some of them are at least selfish a------s), they speed because the road is built for the speed they drive at - the limit signs are ludicrous.

Current building codes see roads as traffic sewers while ignoring their contribution to economic and societal fabric when walkers and cyclists use them freely as well. As well as the fact that congestion isn't mitigated through more lanes, but from other options to getting around. 

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