By Emiko Atherton, Vice President, Thriving Communities, Director, National Complete Streets Coalition, Smart Growth America
May 17 is Bike to Work Day--a day celebrated as part of National Bike Month. Here in the Washington, D.C. area, local bike enthusiasts will encourage their fellow residents to join their ranks, fill the streets, and pedal their way to work. Biking to work has several different benefits and allows us all to interact with our communities in new and different ways but it all starts when cities implement comprehensive Complete Streets policies.
Complete Streets is one of the nine policies our partner, CityHealth, advocates for, as a powerful policy that local leaders can put in place that can transform health for their residents. It helps those who live in cities walk, bike, ride, drive or take public transit safely.
A strong complete streets policy includes street lighting to illuminate the path home from after school activities in the winter, or crosswalks for mothers and fathers to use with strollers and toddlers on the way to the community park, or bike lanes to provide commuting options for those throughout the community.
Additionally, these policies:
· Promote healthy living by helping to reduce the risk of obesity and healthy problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
· Provide an economic boon to a cities, helping them to avoid a total of $18.1 million in collision and injury costs in one year alone.
· Improve public safety by reducing traffic speed and the risk of injury for pedestrians and cyclists.
· Enhance a sense of community, improve greenspace and help reduce crime and stress.
The package of local policies that support Complete Streets helps to make communities accessible to all for work and play. As we all dust off our helmets and map our route to work this Bike to Work Day, I hope that all cities stand committed to traveling all of the routes we can to create the healthiest cities possible.
Find out whether your city has a solid complete streets policy here.
About Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition
The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, is a non-profit, non-partisan alliance of public interest organizations and transportation professionals committed to the development and implementation of Complete Streets policies and practices. A nationwide movement launched by the Coalition in 2004, Complete Streets is the integration of people and place in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks. To date, over 700 agencies have adopted Complete Streets policies.
Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for, and leading coalitions to bring better development to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transportation or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods.