NW Indiana Passes Regional Complete Streets Policy

Hoosier jokes can now officially be designated sour grapes. Not only does Northwest Indiana build more trails, advocate more strongly for a regional trail system, fund their bicycle projects more dependably, and has never had to return bike and ped money back to Uncle Sam. Now, Northwest Indiana communities have passed a regional Complete Streets policy. The municipalities that make up the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) voted unanimously for its adoption about two hours ago.

The regional context makes so...much...sense for what is essentially - I'm going to say it - a Chicago suburban region. In the suburban environment, connections between communities and regional assets like trails significantly reduce the benefits local Complete Streets policies and bike/ped plans provide to their towns. It's often those between-communities, between-trails connections that really influence residents' travel choice, their safety, where they choose to eat, go to school, buy groceries. Ideally, you want a town that passes Complete Streets to be surrounded by towns with Complete Streets policies. NIRPC's regional clout, outstanding coalition building and direct involvement in transportation decisions makes for superior policies and more benefits for individual communities.

Active Trans, Calumet Citizens Connecting Communities, National Park Service, INDOT, and NW Indiana public agencies and communities all contributed hours of commentary, meetings, beer drinking, and conference calling to craft NW Indiana's Complete Streets policy. I've attached the final drafts of the policy and guidelines (required by the municipalities before they'd sign on).

The Complete Streets policy goes into effect immediately. I'd call NIRPC and congratulate them, but I don't know if they use phones in Indiana, and I don't speak Hoosier anyway.

Complete Streets Guidelines REV2.pdf53.67 KB
NIRPC Complete Streets Resolution 2010 REV2.pdf46.69 KB

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Complete Streets

Thanks for the recognition Chris, but it was really the work you, Dan Burden, Andy Clarke, and many others that helped to influence my research. It is nice to see "The Region" embracing the benefits of Complete Streets and Active Transportation. Keep it up!

Way to go, Indiana!

Glad to see the good news from Indiana. The Hoosiers-as-hicks jokes are a bit much, though.

Sadly, you're right, the Region, decidedly NOT a suburban region during its mid-20th century heyday, has become so in recent decades. Deindustrialization and the implosion of once-vibrant downtowns have reduced the sense of community and self-identity that once existed. But the place is still full of wonderul people.

One Hammond, IN native is Rich Killingsworth, who during his tenure at the Centers for Disease Control during the early 2000s was among the very first researchers and policy advocates to establish the links between sprawl and public health. His research and advocacy helped spur subsequent action by CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others.

And he's not the only one.

Chris Morfas (Hammond native)
Fmr. Exec. Director, California Bicycle Coaltion (1997-2003
Founding Vice Chair, Thunderhead Alliance (1998-2003)

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