Public engagement, investment in community propels Complete Streets St. Pete Implementation Plan progress in 2017

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Public engagement, investment in community propels Complete Streets St. Pete Implementation Plan progress in 2017

Photo credit: Trung Vo Photography

Lucas Cruse, Bicyclist and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of St. Petersburg, spoke at the Bike/Walk Tampa Bay Fall Summit at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Education and Conference Center to report on the city’s Complete Streets program and its current progress. The October 20 event took place in Cruse’s city where Complete Streets St. Pete became a public policy in 2015. “With Complete Streets, we are trying to achieve equality between modes of transportation,” Cruse says.

Cruse explained that the plan is based on data that account for what type of traffic exists in specific areas, how land is used in those areas, and how Complete Streets uses this information to prioritize its projects. The city intends to update its policies on land development regulations to make the implementation process reflect “Smart Growth,” a vision for planning that improves economy, equality, and environment in communities across the country.

The planning process included an evaluation of current speed limits to understand which vehicle speeds make sense in specific areas; the goal is to make roads safe, regardless of who you are, how you travel, or where you go.  Also of vital importance is the level of comfort people feel on the road, regardless of their mode of choice, Cruse said. “We need a network that is comfortable for walking and biking,” which means having more space between motorized traffic and non-motorized traffic so people feel safe. Buffers, which create space, reduce stress and “will make a difference in whether someone will or will not choose to walk in a particular place.”

An important part of planning for Complete Streets involves input from the public so the plan reflects the needs of everyday people who travel on St. Petersburg roads now, and will continue to do so in the future. Public engagement activities and community workshops have been scheduled throughout the process and will also be offered going forward. The City of St. Pete aspires to a transportation system that is more equitable among different parts of the population, but to make that happen “something has to give,” Cruse said, and there will be backlash from people who choose not to support it. “That’s why it is important to speak up.”

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