Designing safe streets for all road users

Complete Streets is a transportation approach that requires streets that are planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for all road users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of travel. It is a paradigm shift from traditional traffic engineering principles, which focus primarily on moving as many vehicles as possible, as fast as possible.

Complete Streets is a crucial element in achieving a modern, efficient, and sustainable transportation system. When streets are designed with a Complete Streets approach, they impact desired behaviors which can reduce the need for enforcement activities to ensure safety. Examples include:

  • Clear crosswalks to support predictable crossings
  • Accommodations for bicycles to reduce conflict with vehicles
  • Roadways with visual friction to signal to drivers to slow down

Complete Streets Toolkit

The Complete Streets Toolkit is a guide for local planning, design, and construction processes. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) created this toolkit in partnership with the Active Transportation Alliance and National Complete Streets Coalition.

Complete Streets basics

Complete Streets: The Basics provides an overview of this crucial element in achieving a modern, efficient, and sustainable transportation system.

Policy development

The policies and elements that make Complete Streets most effective reflect input from a broad group of stakeholders, including transportation planners and engineers, elected officials, transit agencies, public health departments, and community members.

Complete Street implementation

An effective implementation process identifies the systems, routines, and assumptions in current decision making. View and download a sample Complete Streets policy implementation plan.

Design concepts

Successful implementation of Complete Streets entails rethinking roadway design concepts and considerations to fully accommodate all anticipated users. These concepts represent “starting points” in the design process.

Facility types and design treatments

Key facility types for bicyclists, pedestrians, and key transit users types help planners and designers create Complete Streets. Engineering and design treatments help accommodate travelers, calm traffic, and manage speeds.

What do Complete Streets look like?

For more information on designing for Complete Streets, visit Pace’s Transit Supportive Guidelines and the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ design guides.