No Street Is “Complete” Without Taking Equity Into Account

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition focuses on Equity.  Many residents in AP do not own cars and move about the city on foot, on bikes, or with wheelchairs.  Streets are complete when they are safe for the most vulnerable: streets that are safe for an 8-year-old or an 88-year old.  

By meeting the needs of underserved communities – lower-income, elderly, immigrants, etc., Complete Streets implementation can be geared towards the needs of those residents and not simply those of neighborhood newcomers.

The article points out that underserved communities disproportionately bear the brunt of pedestrian and bicycle injuries, yet typically receive fewer infrastructure enhancements:  improved crosswalks, narrower travel lanes, better lighting, bike amenities, street trees, etc.  The updated policy metrics steer cities towards reducing the disparity between vulnerable users and street improvements.  As advocates, it’s our job to communicate the idea that CS improvements are intended to serve our vulnerable communities, not displace them.  

For 10 years, the National Complete Streets Coalition has scored thousands of “complete streets” proposals from around the U.S. This year, for the first time, they’re including equity and diversity outcomes as part of their grading rubric.

Weeks ago, on November 19, activists and mourning families in cities around the U.S gathered in public squares for the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims. There, they heard how many people were injured on their city’s streets each month of the year; the names of the dead were read out loud.

To date, over 18 U.S. cities have joined the Vision Zero initiative–a multi-national effort to bring the number of traffic deaths down to zero through a combination of street-design projects and policy. But still, the number of traffic fatalities keeps rising in the U.S. From 2015 to 2016, the number of pedestrian deaths increased 11% to around 6,000–the biggest-ever single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities. Cyclist deaths are also on the rise.

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