Research Outlines 5 Reasons to Build Complete Streets

May 25, 2015 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Smart Growth America makes a case for why cities like Jacksonville should continue their investments in Complete Streets.

What have communities gotten for their investments in Complete Streets?

Fewer automobile collisions and injuries, and more people biking, walking, and taking transit. These projects were inexpensive yet can be effective, and were related to broader economic gains.

These are the findings of Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, released by Smart Growth America's National Complete Streets Coalition. The new report analyzes data from 37 Complete Streets projects across the country, and explores the outcomes communities got for their investment. Our new research finds:

1. Streets were usually safer: Automobile collisions declined in 70 percent of projects, and injuries declined in 56 percent of projects.

2. This safety has financial value: Within our sample, Complete Streets improvements collectively averted $18.1 million in total collision costs in just one year.

3. The projects encouraged multimodal travel: Complete Streets projects nearly always resulted in more biking, walking, and transit trips.
4. Complete Streets projects are cheap: The average cost of a Complete Streets project was just $2.1 million—far less than the $9 million average cost of projects in state transportation improvement plans.

5. They can be an important part of economic development: Our findings suggest that Complete Streets projects were supportive of increased employment, net new businesses, higher property values, and new private investment.

The communities included in this research have reaped significant benefits from their investments in Complete Streets projects. Local elected officials, transportation professionals, and economic development specialists can all learn from these findings, and today's report includes ways for every town or city to start using a Complete Streets approach of their own.

Whether it’s planting trees or adding crosswalks, making travel lanes narrower or creating space for people on bikes, hundreds of communities are changing how their streets look and work—and getting a great return on public investment in the process.

Source: Smart Growth America