Complete Streets for Philadelphia!

Presentation1In 2009 Mayor Nutter recognized that for Philadelphia to accommodate the many different ways Philadelphians choose to travel, the City needed to treat every Streets as a Complete Street. Complete Streets are streets that accommodate all Philadelphians, whether they are on foot, bike, bus or in a car.  In June of 2009 he signed an Executive Order establishing a Complete Streets Policy for the City, which required all departments to:

  • Give full consideration to accommodation of the safety and convenience of all users
  • Balance the needs of all users in planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation; and
  • Prioritize the safety of children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

To help fulfill the Mayor’s mandate, Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, in conjunction with the Streets Department developed a draft of the Complete Streets Handbook. After meeting with over 100 Philadelphians over ten public out reach meetings, MOTU and the Streets Department have released the final version of the Handbook

The Handbook does two things:

  • Clearly communicate design guidance to planners, engineers and architects
  • Help communities understand the City’s “tool box” for creating better streets

In December of 2012, City Council helped enshrine the policy and the handbook in the City’s every day business practices.  The Complete Streets Bill, Bill No. 12053200, mandated that projects that meet a certain threshold are subject to a Complete Streets review process by the Streets and Planning Departments. Projects that meet the threshold must fill out a Complete Streets Checklist when they submit their projects for review by the appropriate departmental unit. The Checklist ensures that all engineers, developers and architects have reviewed the Complete Streets Handbook and that their designs comply with the principles set forth in the handbook. The handbook and Checklists may all be found at on the Street Departments’ webpage.

The threshold outlined in Bill No. 12053200 states that projects that require Plan of Development Review, or projects that require Civic Design Review, all need to fill out the Complete Streets Design Checklist. Similarly projects that change the curb line AND either add a lay-by-lane, require a traffic study, affect a signalized intersection, or add or expand a driveway to 24 feet will also need to fill out the Complete Streets Design Checklist, to be submitted along with all plans.

Everybody plays a part in making Philadelphia’s streets complete streets, be it the Streets Department, community groups, or developers.  This new framework, which affects both public and private projects, ensures that Phialdelphia’s streets are completed, one street at a time.


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