Cook County embraces Complete Streets

This blog post is one in a series of stories featuring some of the great things happening in suburban Chicago communities. The stories will focus on Chicagoland communities that are on the forefront of the movement to encourage healthy, active transportation like walking, biking and public transit.

These are communities Active Trans had the privilege to work with as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, a federally-funded program aimed at creating healthier and more active lifestyles throughout the nation.

It’s a substantial triumph when the second largest county in the United States begins to fully embrace the Complete Streets philosophy. Now that it has a Complete Streets policy on its books, Cook County has set a national example for making active transportation safer and easier.

After the groundwork was laid with a Complete Streets executive order in 2009, the county decided to take a stronger approach and put in place a Complete Streets ordinance that would be used and enforced. After the ordinance was drafted, it was unanimously approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

But the highway department didn’t stop there. It created a policy to ensure that the new ordinance wouldn’t be ignored. Now, any exceptions to multi-modal accommodations require approval from the highway department superintendent.

To cap off this remarkable achievement, the highway department became one of the first users of a new manual that gives detailed instructions on designing active transportation facilities to suit the wide variety of development landscapes of suburban Cook County. The manual — Complete Streets, Complete Networks: A Manual for the Design of Active Transportation — was created by Active Transportation Alliance with input from national and local experts in roadway design. It’s available at 

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One country is distinguished

One country is distinguished by its administration, rules, regulation, law etc. It is also applicable in vehicle sector.The picture of road with many cars shown in the above blog is the good sign of suburban Chicago communities.

It provides a clear vision of its administration in traffic and road management. Really it is appreciable.
Audi Repair San Marino

No Bike Lane

I don't see any bike lanes in the above photo, so I'd hardly consider it a complete street.

Thank you for your comment on

Thank you for your comment on the photo. In it you stated that since there is no bike lane, the street isn't complete. With all due respect, we disagree. A Complete Street is a street that is safe for all users regardless of travel mode. That doesn't mean there are specific facilities for each mode. The photograph has these facilities contributing to make it a Complete Street:

1. Slow speed (evident by the narrow lanes) - good for cycling
2. Narrow pedestrian crossings
3. Pedestrian refuge islands
4. Good lighting
5. Buffer between sidewalks and travel lanes
6. High visibility crosswalk

Would you like to see more Complete Streets? Sign up as a supporter for Communities for Complete Streets at

Dialog about Complete Streets is helpful

It's great that Cook embraces Complete Streets. It's extremely positive that Active Trans, LIB, and others work toward more complete streets.

Reading this blog and the links to additional info about Complete Streets still leaves me with questions.
1) there appears to be plenty of room for a bike lane in the photo above. The cars take up only about 2/3 of the lane. Drivers and bicyclists alike are conditioned to look for and respect actual painted bike lanes. There is room on this street. Why is it complete without them?
2) we see signs for pedestrians and car traffic signs; we don't see any bike signs. How does this factor into Complete Streets? I'd like a share the road sign, at the least, especially if there is no bike lane. Maybe there are signs outside the photo (I would have included them in a photo, if I were touting complete streets).
3) there does not appear to be any buffer between the sidewalk and street on the far side of the photo above. See the top right quadrant. This is a criteria you cite above in your reply, Active Trans. It is missing. That part of the circle has, arguably, the most confusing stretch of road as evidenced by the arrows and passing lanes painted on the street. A criteria could be improved here, yes?
4) the concept and photo of a refuge island cuts both ways. I understand how the elderly and kids/families may benefit from such places. But, under current IL state law, cars must stop for pedestrians. As soon as I step foot into the crosswalk, I should not need any "refuge", at least conceptually per IL legislature and Active Trans support of the newer laws about crosswalks. An island helps, but pedestrians should hardly need "refuge" any more than bicyclists need bike lanes. If I follow the logic of better equipping more vulnerable classes of people, peds have a refuge, but bikes don't. This makes me tend more to agree with Adam's comment. How are he and I "wrong" in this regard?

Perhaps there are better examples of Complete Street photos we can highlight. This may better minimize opposition and better garner support for continued work and positive dialog around this important initiative.

Thank you Active Trans and members for your continued efforts and dialog about safe transportation and living.

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