Complete Streets - One of the big pushes in bicycle and pedestrian advocacy nationwide is the Complete Streets program. From the federal level all the way down to local communities, the Complete Streets Coalition is trying to get everyone to adopt some form of Complete Streets legislation.
Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.
Creating complete streets means transportation agencies must change their orientation toward building primarily for cars. Instituting a complete streets policy ensures that transportation agencies routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users. Places with complete streets policies are making sure that their streets and roads work for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists, as well as for older people, children, and people with disabilities.
While Virginia doesn't have Complete Street legislation, they do have a 2004 policy within VDOT to routinely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in all road construction or reconstruction projects.
This is a major turnaround because under the former policy, the Virginia DOT would include accommodation only if it was identified in an adopted local plan, requested by the local governing body, and substantially funded with local tax dollars. Now VDOT is committed to building complete streets as a matter of routine, which provide safe and convenient travel for people on foot and bicycle. The policy also allows standalone retrofit, ends the practice of requiring 50% local match for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and considers non-motorized travel in a variety of Department activities.
California has complete streets legislation
As of 2011, the law will require cities and counties, when updating the part of a local general plan that addresses roadways and traffic flows, to ensure that those plans account for the needs of all roadway users.
At the same time, the California Department of Transportation unveiled a revised version of Deputy Directive 64, an internal policy document that now explicitly embraces Complete Streets as the policy covering all phases of state highway projects, from planning to construction to maintenance and repair.
As the result, California became the second—and by far the largest—state to implement Complete Streets policies covering every public street, road and highway.
[Update: Maryland has complete streets legislation, dating from 2000. The current push is to strengthen that language and make the DOT accountable]. Locally the DC Bicycle Advisory Council is working to push Complete Streets legislation through in the District and there is also a push to get Maryland to adopt stronger Complete Streets legislation.
Advocates for pedestrian safety held a news conference Monday [Nov 9] at which they endorsed a concept called "complete streets," in which roads are built or rebuilt to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles as well as motor vehicles. Many cities and states, they said, have made walking safer by investing in infrastructure that protects pedestrians.
However, it reported, Maryland has spent only 0.6 percent of its federal highway money on pedestrian and bicycle projects - one of the lowest percentages in the nation.
Bicycle Friendly Honorable Mention community Rockville, MD passed complete streets this year. Virginia, Maryland and DC (as well as the U.S. Congress) should pass complete streets legislation.
Virginia, under the leadership of Gov. Tim Kaine, became the first state to severely limit cul-de-sacs from future developments. New rules require that all new subdivisions attain a certain level of "connectivity," with ample through streets connecting them to other neighborhoods and nearby commercial areas.
I don't think DC has any culs-de-sac, but this policy wouldn't hurt. Unfortunately, most of the DC area is built out, so this won't help too much in the area, but there is always the process of redevelopment.
Trails open - Finally, we don't close roads or sidewalks at night and we shouldn't close trails or bridge bike lanes at night either. M-NCPPC should remove this restriction. It basically makes winter commuting illegal. I always point this out as the law I most often break.