Complete Streets

Good engineering breeds good driving.

Everyone — whether walking, riding a bicycle, driving a car, or taking public transit–has a right to safe, convenient access to destinations. Yet far too many of our streets have been designed for cars only.

Complete the streets!

Complete Street - downtown Woodstock

Complete Street in downtown Woodstock

The Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta Regional Commission and cities of Atlanta, Decatur and Roswell have all adopted Complete Streets policies.

Complete Streets are ones that serve all transportation modes, including public transit, bicycling and walking. They also serve people of all ages and abilities.

Reducing crashes, promoting economic growth, improving air quality and increasing physical activity are just a few of many benefits.

For people who walk, safe crossings are essential.

Adopting a Complete Streets policy is just a first step. Implementing policies is where the real work begins.

In Atlanta and elsewhere in the country, many Complete Streets projects have paid far too little attention to the needs of people who ride transit or walk.

GDOT engineer and PEDS staff consider crosswalk needs and opportunities on Ponce de Leon

GDOT engineers and PEDS staff consider crosswalk needs and opportunities on Ponce de Leon.

This is especially important on streets with more than three lanes and over 12,000 cars a day. On these, marked crosswalks alone are never enough.

We can count on transportation professionals to install curb ramps and repair broken sidewalks on Complete Streets projects. But all too often, safe crossings have been an afterthought.

Georgia, like most other states, lacks clear policies on where crosswalks should be located and how they should be designed.

Safe crossing  - Midtown MARTA station
Safe crossing adjacent to Midtown MARTA station

We’re working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to change that.

We’re thrilled that Jack Cebe, a licensed architect who is pursuing graduate degrees in regional planning and civil engineering at Georgia Tech, interned with us this summer. Jack completed a terrific study that recommends policies for siting and designing crosswalks. 

Transportation professionals at GDOT have begun reviewing and providing feedback on the study. Once approved, we expect it to greatly increase the frequency and quality of crosswalk treatments in Georgia.

GDOT has expanded its safety tool box. The questions we’re helping GDOT answer: Which to use and where?

Travel speed and signal timing matter.

Walk signal lights up while drivers still have a red light.

Walk signals light up before drivers get a green light.

For people who walk, Complete Streets are not just about sidewalks and crossings. Travel speed and signal timing matter a lot. People who have to wait over 45 seconds are more likely to cross against the light.

Reducing motor vehicle speeds by 10 mph — from 35 to 25 mph — increases the safety and livability of a street dramatically. Transportation experts refer to that as the “critical ten.”

Giving pedestrians a head start over turning cars costs next to nothing and has tremendous benefits. Small changes like these often have a big impact.

Community engagement matters.

We’ll never have perfect consensus. Make no mistake, Citizens Against Virtually Everything (CAVE) are a reality. But don’t let them spoil the day. Instead, speak up, stay engaged and make sure elected officials and transportation professionals hear from you as well.

Experiment.

Ask for permission to use bales of hay to tighten corners or install a temporary traffic circle. Don’t take no for an answer from someone who doesn’t have the authority to say yes.

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