While Complete Streets has many benefits, Lakeshore Foundation and Disability Rights and Resources share why complete streets are important for people with disabilities.
"Complete Streets" is an initiative from Smart Growth America that seeks to create streets and roadways that promote healthy lifestyles for all by being safer, more efficient, and more livable than streets which currently foster speeding vehicles and, conversely, congestion and traffic jams.
One of the key components of Complete Streets is that they truly consider all users, including people with and without disabilities. Complete Streets incorporate tenets of inclusion and universal design to combat the barriers of incomplete streets and to ensure that built environments, technology, and traffic flow promote the best possible pedestrian and transit experience for all users.
Karin Korb, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, as well as living in the City of Birmingham confirms, “Having safe access to areas in my community is a priority for my quality of life and those who also identify as having a disability. I am excited about the potential for all people becoming more active in our vibrant and innovative city!”
People with disabilities are familiar with barriers caused by incomplete streets such as:
unpaved, broken, and/or disconnected surfaces
lack of curb cuts and ramps
steep curb cuts
traffic signals with no audible components
wide intersections with limited crossing time
paths of travel leading to no where
inaccessible bus stops
Complete Streets take into account these and other barriers, addressing them in planning and policy work. Additionally, Complete Streets advocates may target existing policies and developments, and advocate for amending them to create more accessible environments. Absent these barriers, community streets, roadways, and pedestrian infrastructure are vastly improved, providing tangible benefits not only to people with disabilities, but to all users.
For example, curb cuts can benefit individuals who use assistive walking devices, as well as parents pushing strollers, or individuals without cars who utilize push carts to carry purchased items home. Shorter crosswalks and extended crossing times benefit all individuals who have decreased mobility, including people with disability, poor physical fitness, large loads of items, or adults corralling several children. While these examples may seem simple, when applied to real-world instances the benefits are tangible and lead to increased individual and community health and engagement.
Support Complete Streets in Birmingham
A group of Complete Streets advocates have been working with Birmingham City officials to draft a Complete Streets ordinance that will be brought to the City Council for approval in early March, 2018. This ordinance is supported by organizations like United Way of Central Alabama, AARP, the American Heart Association , UAB, and many others.
Have you signed the petition in support of Complete Streets in Birmingham? Get involved and sign it today!