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Policy Elements - Complete Streets


The streets in our towns and cities play a significant role in the livability of our communities. Communities should be safe and livable for all residents regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. Instituting a Complete Streets policy ensures that our streets are fit for all road users. Though there is not a definitive definition of a complete street yet, the National Complete Streets Coalition has identified 10 essential elements of a comprehensive Complete Streets policy. This section of the Smart Growth America website outlines these 10 elements and provides useful information to assist communities with establishing, implementing, and evaluate a successful Complete Streets policy.

Key Points

The National Complete Streets Coalition has studied and analyzed Complete Streets policies across the country and has established a list of 10 elements that should be featured in a community’s Complete Streets policy.

An effective Complete Streets policy should:

  • Include a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets
  • Specify that all road users include pedestrians, bicyclists, transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as motor vehicles
  • Apply to both new and retrofit projects
  • Clearly identify any exceptions
  • Encourage street connectivity that facilitates an integrated transportation network
  • Be adaptable
  • Promote the use of the latest and best design criteria
  • Direct that Complete Streets solutions will complement the environment of the community
  • Establish measurable performance standards
  • Include specific next steps for implementation

Readers can find more details on writing a strong, effective, and implementable policy by reviewing the Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook found here:

How to Use

Policymakers, local officials, and community leaders should use this site to gain an understanding of the key elements of a successful Complete Streets policy. This detailed list of elements is an excellent resource that can be downloaded and used as a framework to produce a strong Complete Streets policy. Readers should visit the useful resources provided at the bottom on the site including the Complete Streets Policy Development 101: Presentation and Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook.

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