The Palm Beach MPO is implementing a Complete Streets policy that marks a major shift in the projects that will be prioritized going forward. Excerpts from a recent Complete Streets MPO board presentation:
Complete Streets Policy Purpose
Accommodate the safety and convenience of all surface transportation system users into the planning, design, and construction of state and federally funded transportation projects programmed through the MPO’s TIP…
The Palm Beach MPO will seek to promote Complete Streets by prioritizing the funding of Complete Street infrastructure projects, providing educational opportunities, and encouraging local jurisdictions to adopt and implement local Complete Streets policies.
This could mark a significant shift in the types of projects that are prioritized because there is funding associated with this policy change. The Complete Streets policy suggests that if a project does not incorporate Complete Streets principles into its planning and design, it will not be funded. The default will be to design Complete Streets. Furthermore, the policy incorporates a Vision Zero goal for fatalities.
To evaluate the effective implementation of the policy, the MPO will monitor the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities over time with the ultimate goal of zero fatalities. Vision Zero is the foundation for ending traffic deaths on our streets and roadways.
FDOT, the City of West Palm Beach, and numerous other local municipalities have adopted a Complete Streets policy. Given the funding at stake and the consensus for building complete streets, I would expect Palm Beach County to follow suit soon.
Let’s hope this policy allows for contextual design, rather than copy and paste road design that led to highway scaled roads in places where they don’t belong in the era of suburbanization. I’m all for Complete Streets, but applying rules without regard to context could lead to regrettable outcomes like those that resulted from misapplying highway design to urban streets. Thankfully, by all accounts the FDOT Complete Streets effort has an amazing champion in Billy Hattaway, and the guidance is going to be much more contextual than rules based, from my understanding. Our local cities and county could do well to follow a similar approach to their guidance.