“Complete Streets” have been identified as a Council goal, although as yet our streets, and especially our street planning and design, are a long way from being complete. “Complete” means streets should be designed to serve not only cars, but bicycles and pedestrians, too. This means “streets” includes sidewalks, bike lanes, and more thoughtfully designed intersections.
Even though Northfield is still at the beginning of its work on completing streets, we are fortunate to have local role models to guide our development. Check out the Strib’s story about metro area cities which are narrowing streets to permit adequate space for bicycles as well as traffic calming (not to mention trees – see the Plum Street discussion)
The state legislature passed a Complete Streets law last year requiring MNDoT to adopt a complete streets policy and encouraging local adoption so we’re getting direction from above.
Some people think planning for bicycles and pedestrians is a frilly sort of amenity – nice, but not if it costs more or is inconvenient. The great thing is, it costs less. Smart growth, as I have been saying all along, is not just about how things look, but about how a town functions and how we pay for it.
In the Star Tribune story, North St Paul (see their “Living Streets” manual, too) estimates narrowing a 30 foot wide residential street to 22 feet (yes, 22 feet!) saves 15% in paving and will cut maintenance by 25% or about $1,000 per mile per year. Since Northfield’s community survey identified street condition as a problem and the Council has a goal to reduce the number of miles of streets in poor condition, narrowing streets would help us pay for improving our overall transportation network.