Complete streets

So Indego launched in Philadelphia this week, as I wrote about earlier. Indego and SEPTA Key, launching later this year, both work to modernize the transportation system.

In the meantime, Ariel Ben-Amos’s Citified piece is helpful for rethinking our approach to public infrastructure. The key point is that we should be thinking about “streets” in a more sophisticated way than asphalt strips for cars/buses. Ariel’s concept adopts the “shared streets” model or “complete streets:”

Today, its not enough to have a street, communities want “Complete Streets.” Complete Streets may sound like planner jargon, but its meaning is pretty simple: streets should serve all modes of transportation, they should be safe for travellers no matter how they choose to get about. Complete Streets, be they complete by virtue of a bumpout or a bike lane, have been shown in study after study to be safer and to reduce speeding.

Complete Streets that include pedestrian amenities such as parklets or pedestrian plazas are known to support small businesses and enliven commercial corridors.

Arterial city streets should have separated and protected lanes for bikes buffered by parking spaces, driving lanes, and ideally separated trolley lanes allowing for express service. To my way of thinking, that’s the ideal scenario.

I get the antipathy some have for bikeshare boosters. Obviously bike sharing and better biking infrastructure isn’t going to radically advance the city if approached in a vacuum.

But I think bikeshare is useful as a proxy for better civic development. It’s the foot in the door for more comprehensive thinking about community.