On Wednesday, January 28th, 2018 the Birmingham City Council, in it's Committee of the Whole meeting, officially introduced a Complete Streets Ordinance. This is a major step forward for the local Complete Streets Birmingham initiative, which has long advocated for a formally adopted policy or ordinance to set the direction for how streets are designed within the City.
The ordinance as drafted requires the City to consider all modes of transportation when roadway projects are considered within the City. This means that instead of just designing a street to accommodate cars, streets that are being repaved or significantly modified will be evaluated for the possible addition of sidewalks, crosswalks, bus stops, bike lanes and landscaping.
It's important to note that this ordinance does not necessarily mean that the cost of a roadway project will increase. It means that as redesign options are considered, pedestrians, transit users, and cyclists are given fair consideration during the process. As an example of an improvement that costs no money, many roadways have more vehicular lanes than are needed, so adding bike lanes during a repaving and restriping project will not change the overall project cost.
The ordinance has several champions on the City Council and is also supported by Mayor Randal Woodfin. During Mayor Woodfin's 2017 campaign, he posted on his website that he wanted the City to adopt a Complete Streets policy or ordinance within his first 100 days as mayor.
If the ordinance is adopted, Birmingham will join over 1,000 other communities nationally in formally recognizing the importance of complete streets.
The ordinance was only introduced as a draft at Wednesday's meeting. Over the next few weeks, city councilors will have time to discuss the ordinance and seek feedback from their constituents. The policy will likely come up for a formal vote at one of the council's Tuesday meetings towards the end of February or in early March.
You can support the adoption of this ordinance in several ways. Complete Streets Birmingham has set up a petition that you can sign here and has also drafted a standard email that you can send to your city councilor and to the mayor.