Complete Streets Policies Still Seeking Equity

Though the quick expansion of complete streets policies is worth celebrating, minority and low-income communities are still being left behind, and killed at a disproportionate rate.
June 21, 2017, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Henning Leweke

Leah Binkovitz provides coverage of the recently released "Best Complete Streets Policies 2016" [pdf] report, recently released by Smart Growth America.

Previous coverage focuses mostly on the winners of the "best" title and the quick growth of complete streets policies around the country, but Binkovitz chooses a different frame through which to consider the findings of the study: equity.

Across the country, the annual report from Smart Growth America that documents and evaluates Complete Streets policies passed within the last year, found that Complete Streets efforts tended to concentrate in whiter localities. Massachusetts and Washington state alone accounted for 65 percent of all the policies included in the analysis. The report also found that the jurisdictions passing these policies tended to be wealthier. “The median income of communities that passed or updated a policy in 2016 was $59,347,” the report reads, “about 10 percent above the national average of $53,889.”

The other side of this equity coin is the tendency of pedestrian fatalities to occur in low-income communities, and people of color are more likely to be killed by drivers.

Binkovitz also notes that the city of Houston is one of the U.S. cities to add a complete streets policy in recent years, with mixed results in project delivery and increasing fatalities among pedestrians and bicyclists.

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