The bad news is that Florida leads the country in bicycle and pedestrian crashes and fatalities. The good news is that the Florida Department of Transportation revised its guidelines to ensure that complete streets design becomes the norm. A complete street is one that is designed to safely and efficiently accommodate all its users, not just cars. When bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, and people of all ages and physical ability are taken into consideration, as well as motorized vehicles, a street is designed differently.
On a complete street cars move at a reasonable speed, bicyclists have space to ride, people can walk to places via continuous sidewalks, and it is easy to cross the street. Safety is built into the design. According to Smart Growth America, elements of a complete street can include: sidewalks, bike lane or wide paved shoulders, special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible bus stops, ample safe cross walks, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, roundabouts, benches, and other features that allow for safe, comfortable travel.
There is no “one size fits all” design – each is unique. A complete street in rural Collier County will look very different than one in the City of Naples, because they are designed within the context of the community. For example out in the county along a high-speed roadway, a complete street might include a multiuse pathway set off the road to separate bicyclists and pedestrians from fast moving vehicles. In an urban area, there might be bike lanes, parking and sidewalks along the street. What the two designs will have in common is that they are configured to be accessible, safe, and efficient for their particular users.
Making complete streets happen requires a paradigm shift for Florida’s transportation agencies that for decades have been directed to design roadways with only cars in mind. Former FDOT District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway, lead Florida transportation planning into the 21st Century, and now we hope that his successor, L.K. Nandam, will continue the good work. The City of Naples adopted a complete streets policy and is working diligently to incorporate those planning principles into roadway redesigns. The Central Avenue Improvement Project was the first, and the City
Redevelopment Agency is leading improvements on 3rd Avenue South Naples is fortunate that City Council and staff have adopted a thoughtful approach to complete streets planning throughout the city.
Beth Brainard is the Executive Director of Naples Pathways Coalition (NPC), a non-profit organization that works to create safe, bikeable, walkable communities in Collier County. For more information or to join, visit the NPC web site at www.naplespathways.org or contact Beth