The passage of this proposal will enact a modification to City Code to the affect of creating a framework for planning and implementation of complete streets. The new policy insures that public and private developments plan for all transportation modes when developing a new land use or right of way project.
While the proposal carries with it an air of legal speak, the implications are potentially large for the built environment of Indianapolis. It represents a clear perspective from the leadership of the city on how people move around the city. The language is clear,
“Complete Streets” means streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users,in that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a street.”
Furthermore, the policy spells out that,
“The City shall develop a safe, reliable, efficient, integrated and connected multimodal transportation system that will promote access, mobility and health for all users, and will ensure that the safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system are accommodated, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people of all ages and abilities, motorists, emergency responders, freight providers and adjacent land users.”
You may be asking, what does this all really mean? Are these guidelines or rules? When does it go into affect? How soon will we see change from this policy? The local media coverage of this has been sparse at best, but the proposal itself spells out the time-frame in which the policy will go into place, and what sort of accountability measures will be enacted to insure that the new policy has teeth. Directly from the proposal itself,
The City shall measure the success of this Complete Streets policy using, but not limited to, the following performance measures:
-Total miles of bike lanes
-Linear feet of new pedestrian accommodation
-Number of new curb ramps installed along city streets
-Crosswalk and intersection improvements
-Percentage of transit stops accessible via sidewalks and curb ramps (beginning in June 2014)
-Rate of crashes, injuries, and fatalities by mode
-Rate of children walking or bicycling to school (beginning in June 2014)
Unless otherwise noted above, within six months of ordinance adoption, the City shall create individual numeric benchmarks for each of the performance measures included, as a means of tracking and measuring the annual performance of the ordinance. Quarterly reports shall be posted on-line for each of the above measures
In conclusion, I feel that there will be a wait and see period before a final opinion can be authored on this new policy. There is a section that covers exceptions and generally, it creates a way out for those who do not wish to implement the new complete streets design practices to specific projects. As we have seen through recent projects such as the One America parking garage, some developers will go to great lengths to insure that they conform to the absolute minimum to get by. Will that be the case with the new Complete Streets policy here in Indy? That remains to be seen.