AARP Vermont, in partnership with organizations across the state, worked in 2011 to pass Complete Streets legislation to make roads safer and more accessible for all Vermonters – regardless of age or ability or whether traveling by car, bus, bike or on foot. Governor Shumlin signed the bill at a public ceremony on May 18th and it will take effect July 1, 2011. Complete Streets policies ensure that state and local transportation agencies routinely design and operate the right of way to enable safe access for everyone on the road. Complete Streets guidelines make transportation planners think about how people can access the community without a car. If bikers, walkers and others cannot be adequately accommodated, the agency must provide information to the public on why they could not meet the Complete Streets requirements. The design considerations are meant to apply to new roads and those being redesigned or rebuilt. Exceptions for interstate highways and dirt roads are included.
AARP supports Complete Streets because as people get older they drive less or hang up the keys altogether. This life change can mean a lower quality of life, less independence and isolation if alternative ways of getting around are not available. But there are many other reasons to support Complete Streets. Public health advocates support development of safe places to exercise as a way to combat obesity and chronic disease. Safe alternatives to driving can reduce our carbon footprint and promote livable communities that follow smart growth land use patterns. And for everyone young and old who is riding a bike or walking, safety on the road is a top concern.
AARP Vermont sponsored Complete Streets Week, September 20-24, 2010 to shed light on the dangers pedestrians face as they walk their streets and sidewalks. Over the course of the week, volunteers and organizations teamed up with AARP Vermont to survey crosswalks and intersections in Burlington, St. Johnsbury, Rutland, and Brattleboro. Volunteers evaluated how these intersections address walkers’ needs, such as whether there are adequate traffic signals, crossing signals and properly marked crosswalks or if there is enough time to cross the street.
The visibility and results of this week-long statewide campaign helped demonstrate the need for state Complete Streets legislation. It also put a spotlight on the types of improvements, some that involve little or no cost, that could make walking safer for older residents.
Final reports have been compiled for each community and follow-up steps are being explored. You can find more information below.
Vermont Public Radio
Vermont Edition: Designing Complete Streets
Caledonian Record Volunteers Evaluate "Dangerous" Crosswalks
Brattleboro Reformer Safe Streets Survey Takes Place Friday
Help Make Our Streets Safey - And Complete , Burlington Free Press Traction Issue Essay, January 23, 2011, by Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, Associate State Director, AARP
A Complete Street is a Safe, Smart Street , Times Argus , February 20, 2011, by Elizabeth Courtney, Executive Director, Vt. Natural Resources Council
'Complete' Proposal Considers All Travel , Rutland Herald , February 27, 2011, by Jenny Nixon Carter, Director, Rutland Area Physical Activity Coalition