Before it grew like topsy, Bill No. 238 (aka “Complete Streets”), introduced by Councilwoman Katherine Kelly Burkett, was a pretty straightforward proposal. While it adopted the language common in such legislation it gave the Department of Highways and Traffic, which would be charged with putting Complete Streets into effect, some latitude. It was also about half the length of Substitute Bill No. 1 that replaced it following efforts led by Trailnet working with bill sponsor, Councilman Pat Dolan.
On first reading, this original bill seems a reasonable basis on which to plan for all transportation modes. It certainly appears far preferable to the draconian Substitute Bill No. 1 backed by Trailnet.
However, I’ve just read St. Louis City’s Complete Streets ordinance, enacted in April 2010, which is similar in language to Councilwoman Burkett’s bill, and I now conclude that even this seemingly mild bill should be opposed. That’s because St. Louis’s ordinance was used as the motivation for the recent addition of inappropriate bike lanes and removal of a travel lane in the restriping of Manchester/MO Route 100 by MoDOT in October, 2013, after resurfacing.
The addition of a bike lane led directly to a car-bike crash involving cyclist Susan Herzberg, which could easily have been fatal. The crash occurred just before the entrance to the BP station at the corner of Manchester and Kingshighway. The bike lane replaced a former travel lane which Susan had used and controlled while bicycling for 2-1/2 years prior to this crash without incident.
CONCLUSION: Complete Streets legislation, even with seemingly innocuous language, is bad for competent on-road cyclists. It’s also unconscionable to give the untrained novice a false sense of security by striping bike lanes. You cannot replace knowledge of safe cycling practices with paint.
Note: The underlining in the original to indicate new text has been omitted in the following for clarity.
SUB INTRO 11/12/13 BILL NO. 238 , 2013
ORDINANCE NO. , 2013
Introduced by Councilmember Burkett
AMENDING CHAPTER 1105, TITLE XI SLCRO 1974 AS AMENDED, “DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS AND TRAFFIC,” BY ENACTING AND ADDING THERETO ONE NEW SECTION ESTABLISHING ST. LOUIS COUNTY’S COMPLETE STREETS POLICY.
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI, AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Chapter 1105, Title XI SLCRO 1974 as amended, “Department of Highways and Traffic,” is amended by enacting and adding thereto one new section as follows:
1105.250 Complete Streets. 1. This ordinance sets forth the guiding principles and practices that shall be considered in St. Louis County (“County”) transportation projects. It is the vision of the County to continue to develop and expand upon a safe, reliable, efficient, integrated, accessible and connected multimodal transportation system that shall promote access, mobility and health for all users; to ensure that the safety, convenience and comfort of all users of the transportation system are genuinely considered, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people of all ages and abilities, motorists, emergency responders, freight providers and adjacent land users; and to continue to encourage safe walking, bicycling, transit and vehicle use for all users, regardless of age or ability, in efforts to create an interconnected network of complete streets, linking communities together. St Louis County believes inclusion of complete streets will help promote healthy, livable communities.
2. A “complete street” is defined as a transportation corridor for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe accessible travel for all users with a goal towards creating a network of complete streets. Transportation improvements, facilities and amenities that may contribute to complete streets and that are considered as elements of a complete street are: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant pedestrian access routes, street and sidewalk lighting, pedestrian and bicycle facilities; access management; ADA compliant transit stops and stations; context sensitive landscaping, utility relocations, and street amenities allowing for efficient levels of service.
3. The Department of Highways and Traffic and Public Works (“Department”) will, where practicable, economically feasible and maintainable, routinely incorporate one or more complete street elements into County transportation projects to create a safer, more accessible street for all users. These elements provide appropriate accommodation for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, motorists, and persons of all abilities, regardless of age, while promoting safe operation for all users, in a coordinated manner consistent with, context sensitive to and supportive of, the surrounding community.
4. While this ordinance does not require specific designs, or construction standards, or that specific improvements be constructed, the Director of Highways and Traffic and Public Works (“Director”) shall consider the incorporation of federally recognized best practice complete street elements and allow design flexibility to balance user needs, where appropriate, in the design and construction of County transportation projects, improvements and facilities, in addition to other considerations including, but not limited to: cost of improvements; budget for the project; space and area requirements and limitations; federal, state and local legal requirements and limitations; property rights and acquisition; foreseeable future land use; and on-going maintenance and operational costs.
5. The Department will incorporate complete streets principles into public strategic plans, standards plans, manuals, rules, regulations and programs as appropriate. St Louis County shall foster partnerships with the State of Missouri, local municipalities, neighboring communities, Metro, Business Districts, Chambers of Commerce, Great Rivers Greenway and other agencies, in consideration of functional facilities and accommodations in furtherance of the County’s complete streets policy and the continuation of such facilities and accommodations within other County communities. Elements that require maintenance by others will be handled via separate agreement between the interested parties.
6. The County recognizes that complete streets may be achieved through single elements incorporated into a particular project or incrementally through a series of smaller improvements over time. The County will investigate and draw upon various possible funding sources, including partnering with other communities and agencies, to plan and implement this policy in order to make complete street elements more economically feasible.
7. During the planning phase of County transportation projects, the Director will task staff to study and analyze ways to incorporate one or more complete street elements into the County transportation project and document study results. The study and analysis will include cost estimates, whether the elements can be incorporated in a safe manner, the degree that such improvements or facilities may be used, the benefit of such improvements or facilities to other County transportation improvements, whether additional property is required, physical or area requirements or limitations, long-term maintenance considerations, and any other factors deemed relevant. Study details will be commensurate with project type and size and in accordance with implementation procedures. Emergency, maintenance and intelligent transportation system (ITS) projects will be excluded from study. The Director will form an interdepartmental team to discuss complete streets goals in context of all County projects and in accordance with the County’s Strategic Plan. The Director will brief the St. Louis County Board of Highways and Traffic (“Board”) regarding details of the complete streets analyses. On a semi-annual basis, the Department will prepare a summary briefing regarding consideration of and progress towards complete streets implementation including quantifying metrics and performance measures and will present this briefing to the Board of Highways and Traffic and will provide a semi-annual report to the St Louis County Council.
8. County personnel will routinely seek professional development on complete streets principles and continue to attend workshops and other educational opportunities available to planners and engineers so that everyone working on the transportation network understands the importance of the complete streets vision and how they can implement it in their everyday work. The Department also recognizes that public outreach, education and communication are key factors of success.
CHAIR, COUNTY COUNCIL
ATTEST: _____________________________ _____________________________
ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE
APPROVED AS TO LEGAL FORM: