How Can We Improve Vermont’s Complete Streets Policy?

Posted on 11/30/22 by Laura McDonough

Complete Streets are streets designed for all modes of transportation, allowing people of all ages and abilities to walk, bike, use public transit and drive. It is an approach to planning, designing, building, operating, and maintaining streets that enables safe access for all people who need to use them, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders (Smart Growth America).

AARP Vermont recently engaged Smart Growth America to evaluate the Vermont Complete Streets policy and develop recommendations that AARP Vermont and its partners can use to inform their statewide Complete Streets advocacy efforts. Vermont’s Complete Streets statute, passed in 2011, has helped the state make some progress on Complete Streets, but issues like outdated Road Design Standards from 1997 and a lack of reporting transparency and ownership have led to missed opportunities for implementing a modern multimodal transportation system. Moreover, a lack of capacity and training for Complete Streets has hindered smaller communities’ ability to implement Complete Streets at the local level.

Smart Growth America evaluated the Vermont Complete Streets policy using the National Complete Streets Coalition’s Complete Streets Policy Framework to provide short- and long-term recommendations. The short-term recommendations to improve Vermont’s Complete Streets implementation are below:

  1. Adopt an internal VTrans Complete Streets policy  
    This will help to clarify how the Complete Streets statewide legislation should be implemented
  2. Make existing Complete Streets data public
    This will better inform stakeholders of the gaps in the agency’s policies and processes
  3. Provide training and resources to localities
    A lack of capacity and training has hindered smaller Vermont communities’ ability to implement Complete Streets at the local level
  4. Use Revising the Vermont State Standards (VSS) to inform the plan to update the Vermont State Standards
    The design guidance, like the VSS, is one key component needed for jurisdictions to comprehensively integrate Complete Streets in their transportation approach. The VSS should be updated using the Revising the Vermont State Standards; M2D2: Multimodal Development and Delivery

Complete Streets policies are created to address the needs of all people and to update previous measures of what makes a street successful.  A Complete Street may include: sidewalks, bike lanes, special bus lanes, accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crosswalks, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, roundabouts, and more.

To view the full report of recommendations for advancing Vermont’s Complete Streets policy, click here.

This story is provided by AARP Vermont. Visit the AARP Vermont page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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