Complete Streets Bill Passes in St. Louis: What it Says and What it Doesn’t

St. Louis City passed a "Complete Streets" bill June 11 (complete bill below). It's without a doubt good news and something we should celebrate. Getting a bill written and passed is a real achievement. But what does it mean and what doesn't it mean?

In some ways the bill falls far short of what some of us would want. The bill does not require the accommodation of cyclists, pedestrians or transit. The bill "does require the City to consider complete street elements in the design, construction and maintenance of public transportation projects" while balancing complete street objectives with the "cost of improvements, budget for the project, space and area requirements and imitations and legal requirements and limitations." What this means is that the City will not be required to implement any specific element or design for a project.

So there's no guarantee, or legal obligation, that this bill will change our streets and our city. However, things will change as "complete streets" becomes an integral part of street and project planning. What the bill does do is codify a process, integrating "complete street" components, amenities and access for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit, into "public works plans, manuals, rules, regulations and programs." Over time this will make the consideration of all street users part of any development plan.

For sure, some of this happens anyway and St. Louis has come a long way in this regard. The new South Grand streetscape was planned without this bill and the planned Grand Avenue bridge will incorporate wide sidewalks, significant bike lanes and improved transit accessibility, showing that we've learned something since the Kingshighway bridge south of Manchester Avenue was completed.

Alderman Shane Cohn, Trailnet and others deserve much credit for doing the necessary groundwork and preparation and introducing the bill to the Board of Aldermen. Thanks to their work and the support from the entire Board, we are ever more likely to see streets in St. Louis City that make sense for all users.

STL Board Bill No. 7 – Complete Streets {jcomments on}