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Dangerously Incomplete Streets

Look at these photos and read about what you see. Then think about the roadways near you. There's a good chance you're encountering similar sights and scenes

  • An older woman attempts to cross a very wide roadway.
    Photo courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition

    Will She Make It?

    In a nation of roadways built for motor vehicles, pedestrians routinely put their lives at risk with every step they take. Crossing lanes of traffic on foot is a challenge, even with a crosswalk and signal. Let's hope this woman walks really fast

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  • A man trying to cross a five-lane lawn is stuck on a narrow median.
    Photo by Dan Burden

    Complete v. Incomplete Streets

    Can you find the man trying to cross the road? (Hint: He's stuck in the middle.) Complete Streets serve all users, be they drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians. This is an "Incomplete Street." Versions of this road exist throughout the U.S.

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  • There's no safe way for a pedestrian to get to this movie theater.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    Scary Movie

    The movie theater is next to the fake lighthouse, across the road from where you just had lunch. All you need to do is cross four lanes of traffic. You can use the faded crosswalk but there's no traffic signal. If you time it right you should be okay.

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  • A roaway shoulder used by cyclists leads to a sudden dead end.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    A Dead End

    What happens when a bicyclist or pedestrian traveling along the shoulder of this suburban road finds that the path abruptly ends. The choices are limited and risky: Turn around, trample through someone's yard or move into the traffic lane.

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  • Students walk along a road with no sidewalks.
    Photo courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition

    School Days

    These students travel to and from school along this busy road with no sidewalks. Since most U.S. high schools start in the 7 a.m. hour, teens are often walking to school before dawn. Would you want your child or grandchild walking along this road?

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  • A school bus stop on a rural roadway.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    Don't Walk, Ever

    There are no sidewalks, so the school buses in this district leave no child behind, even those who live near the school. Paved shoulders along rural roads like this one could provide some protection for pedestrians and bicylists and improve safety.

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  • People wanting to cross the street have to stand in the dirt and mud.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    Stuck in the Mud

    It's great that this intersection features crosswalks and traffic signals, but there's no sidewalk at this corner to lead the way, especially for someone in a wheelchair, pushing a stroller or simply wearing a nice pair of shoes.

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  • A wide, multi-lane roadway with no safe way for crossing on foot.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    No Crossing

    You can drive north or south along this multi-lane roadway, but — if you're on foot — don't even attempt to walk east and west between the two shopping centers. There are no crosswalks and the traffic lights are timed for vehicles not people.

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  • There's a sidewalk ramp for wheelchairs but no traffic light or stop sign.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    So Near Yet So Far

    This sloping and marked sidewalk works for people in wheelchairs or with vision impairments. Too bad there isn't a crosswalk or traffic signal so residents of the adjacent assisted living facility can safely walk to the shops across the way.

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  • A man in a wheelchair uses a ramp on one side of a street and then sees that there's no ramp on the other side.
    Photo courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition

    One Way In, No Way Out

    While this location has a ramp so a wheelchair user can exit the sidewalk to cross the road, there's no ramp on the opposite side! This gentleman is rolling into a roadway he can't escape.

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  • A sidewalk ramp leads to a lawn rather than a sidewalk.
    Photo by Brett VA

    A Ramp for a Picnic?

    This oddly-placed ADA compliant curb cut was installed outside the headquarters of the area agency on aging that serves the Charlottesville region of Virginia. Maybe the ramp was placed for wheelchair access to the lawn.

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  • A woman returns from a store by walking along a worn down path in the grass.
    Photo courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition

    Foot Traffic

    Look at the well-worn dirt path. People have obviously been walking to shops and other places along this commercial roadway. Wouldn't it make sense to have a sidewalk here instead?

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  • Bicyclists and drivers are supposed to share this road with a do-not-cross double yellow line.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    Road Rules

    After a car struck and killed a bicyclist, the county that governs this rural community posted signs affirming "Bicycles May Use Full Lane." That's a nice offer, but with drivers and cyclists sharing the same winding country road, dangers persist.

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  • A man stands at a chilly bus stop that provides no seating or shelter.
    Photo courtesy National Complete Streets Coalition

    The Waiting Game

    Public transit options are important community features. A safe place to wait for the bus is also important. Bus stop seating and shelter from the elements — and from traffic — are basic needs, as are safe and accessible pathways to get there.

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  • This bus stop provides no safe place for a rider to wait.
    Photo by Melissa Stanton

    Find the Bus Stop

    It's there, hidden within the weeds, shrubs and trees. Someone waiting for a bus can stand in the road or in the overgrown greenery. Bug spray is recommended.

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  • This steep staircase near a bus stop leads to a senior center.
    Photo by Brett VA

    The Good, Bad and Ugly

    At the top of the staircase stands an award-winning senior center. (An odd place for steps.) At the base of the staircase is a bus shelter and crosswalk. (That's good.) But there's no sidewalk or curb cut for access. (That's bad.)

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  • A fire hydrant is placed in the middle of the sidewalk.
    Photo by Julie Nepveu

    Don't Hit the Hydrant!

    The fire hydrant's location undermines the usefulness of the sidewalk to wheelchair users and people pushing strollers. The curb ramp with a detectable (i.e. bumpy) warning pad is a smart feature. Too bad it's mostly covered by sand. 

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  • This residential roadway in Honolulu includes a shabby, not very safe sidewalk.
    Photo by AARP

    Is That the Sidewalk?

    While this residential roadway (in Hawaii!) provides some protection for pedestrians, the path is incomplete, narrow, dirty and of limited use. 

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  • A vast, largely empty Wal-Mart parking lot.
    Photo by Brett VA

    The Asphalt Jungle

    This parking lot is located in Anywhere and Everywhere USA. There's nothing welcoming, safe or appealing about this type of way-too-common place. Learn how Complete Streets policies can help protect against all you've just seen.

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  • Covers of the AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit and Leader Guide
    Tool Kits by AARP Livable Communities

    How You Can Make Streets Safer

    The AARP Walk Audit Tool Kits are free, downloadable, printable, self-service guides that can be used by anyone to document pedestrian safety problems and inspire solutions. If you take a photo of a dangerously incomplete street near you, we might be able to include the image in this slideshow. (Email us at Better yet, if you use Facebook or Twitter, post your photo there with the hashtag #IncompleteStreet.

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