• Can a Stroad Ever Be a “Complete Street”?

    by  • December 6, 2011 • Engineering • 2 Comments

    “Complete Streets” is a phrase to conjure with.  The idea that streets are places that should serve many users (and not just car and truck traffic level-of-service) is enormously popular.  And, indeed,  Delaware has an official policy that is called “Complete Streets”.  In reality, however, Delaware’s actual policy is more accurately described as a “routine accommodation” policy for pedestrians and bicyclists on roads.  But even though it’s only “routine accommodation”, that’s still better than nothing, right?

    Yes.  It is better than nothing.  But it’s also symptomatic of our larger inability in the U.S. to understand the fundamental difference between a road and a street.  And it leads to really absurd situations:


    We Have Too Many Stroads

    The Important Difference Between a Road and A Street

    Do Conversations Like This Still Happen in 2011?

    Wider. Straighter. Smoother. Faster.

    First, Do No Harm to Pedestrians and Bicyclists

    “Complete Streets” = Routine Accommodation


    James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware. He is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (by whom he was named the 2014 Professional of the Year, Nonprofit Sector), the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Delaware Bicycle Council. He is the co-chair of the policy committee of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness and serves on the board of directors of the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin and is the only registered lobbyist for cycling and walking in Delaware. He helped create, and continues to lead Bike Delaware's participation in, the Walkable Bikeable Delaware campaign. During his tenure as Bike Delaware's executive director, Delaware advanced in the national Bicycle Friendly State rankings for five years in a row, farther and faster than any other state, ever.

    2 Responses to Can a Stroad Ever Be a “Complete Street”?

    1. Frank Warnock
      December 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Sadly enough, if the engineer did his job and designed something truly bike/ped friendly, and thus restrained autos properly, it would result in a public backlash so severe he would probably lose his job.

    2. Rob
      December 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks for posting this great video, and raising this important issue.

      One of our state roads recently had one direction narrowed from 2 lanes to one lane. The shoulder that was painted has done a pretty good job of slowing cars, but it made me wonder: since when was it ok to give bicycles just a painted shoulder? When did we surrender to cars?

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