United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Complete Streets are for Everyone.

In Advocacy, Featured Story, News by Brent HughLeave a Comment

Long time Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation board member Paul Wojciechowski became president of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation at the November 2013 board meeting. Paul heads the St. Louis office of Alta Planning and Design and has over 28 years experience as a transportation planner and engineer, including as a Planning Manager for MoDOT and Director of Public Works in Clayton. Paul is an avid cyclist who strongly believes in building our streets and our communities for people, including those who bicycle and walk.

Here is Paul’s President’s Message for January 2014:

There has been a raging debate going on in St. Louis, and I am sure the discussion has been debated across the state about “Complete Streets,” and what this means for communities.  The definition of a “complete street” from the Complete Street Coalition website is as follows:

“Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. People of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across streets in a community, regardless of how they are traveling. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.”

This is a basic vision we all can agree on.  After all, who would say that we do not want safe access for all users or that want to exclude a certain group of people from using a street.  Most would find this appalling if we suggested this.  Advocates for better bicycling and walking in the state must stand united for complete streets, because if we are divided on this issue we will surely fall into a past rut of only thoughts focused moving cars and trucks on our state and local roadways.

The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation has always been a staunch supporter of “Complete Streets,” “Livable Streets, ““Great Streets,” or whatever you want to call them.  The fact is that our streets and roadways should be built not for motor vehicles, but for people.

What does it mean to have a “Complete Street”?  A Complete Street means a bikeway of some type, sidewalks, safe pedestrian crossings, transit accommodations for the transit type along the street or none if transit does not exist, and street designed to support the adjacent lane use.  Simply stated, the street should accommodate use needs along the street or roadway.  All advocates or advocacy groups who support bicycling and walking must band together in supporting the concept.

A key consideration of Complete Streets is that one size does not fit all, and should match the context of the street with respect to land use and the community it is in; being prescriptive misses the point of “complete streets.”  Solutions should match the vision of a better transportation system.  In the case of bicycle elements of a design, or accommodation in a retrofit project, it may mean bike lanes in some cases.  In others it may mean bikeable shoulders, cycle tracks, shared use paths, or simply shared lanes on a low speed streets and roadways.  Advocates for safe bicycling must stand together on the right choice for each situation.  There are some who feel that complete streets concepts are not good because they mean bike lanes or high type bikeways of some type, which is not the case. Some streets do not need a special bikeway type for safe cycling to support the concept. Whatever our personal preference in bikeway type, we need to stand for what is best for the bicycling community and stand united.

In closing, the basic fact is clear for all advocates of better bicycling and walking, complete streets are good for what we advocate for.  Individual preference should not compromise the bigger picture, and our opinions need to be constructive in taking into account the configuration of all roadways for who are using the roads, from cars and trucks, to bicyclists and walkers (runners) to transit users, and do what works best for all types of users, not a select few. The message needs to be clear in public discussions that we support Complete Streets; otherwise we will do nothing but confuse the concept of “complete streets” for transportation and political decision makers.

United we stand tall and we take positive steps to make our transportation system better, divided we undermine the system approach and take steps backwards.

 

Paul Wojciechowski

President – Missouri Bicycling and Pedestrian Federation

 

Photo via Trees on San Pedro Street Project

Brent Hugh

Dr. Brent D. Hugh has two bachelor's degrees and three graduate degrees in the fields of mathematics and music performance from Brigham Young University, Utah State University, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. He has been webmaster, president, and now Executive Director of the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation. Under his leadership, MoBikeFed has grown from an organization with a few dozen members and $500 annual budget to the current membership of over 1400 active members and over $200,000 budget. MoBikeFed is a statewide advocacy organization that works to make the state a better, safer place to walk and bicycle.

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