MML Review Magazine May/June 2024


COVID-19 and Beyond: Complete Streets Evolution

The Complete Streets crusade began in 2003, reacting to the standard practice of building roads for as much motorized traffic as possible. This approach left behind nearly a third of the American population—children, seniors, and people with differing abilities—not to mention those who can’t afford a car, rely on public transit, or prefer not to drive. Within a decade, nearly 500 Complete Streets policies were implemented nationwide. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of multi-modal streets back into focus. With fewer drivers on the roads, a surge in pedestrian and cycling usage, and the need for more outdoor gathering spaces, the pandemic made the case for a more flexible transportation network—one that focused more on people than cars. Municipalities, seemingly overnight, repurposed parking and traffic lanes for outdoor seating and gathering spaces—many of which remain today. But the pandemic was just one disruption to take place during the Complete Streets era. Crashes related to speeding and cell phone use are driving up traffic fatalities. The need for electric vehicle charging has emerged. Consideration for autonomous vehicles is on the horizon. Yet, the core principles of Complete Streets remain focused on designing streets that safely meet the needs of multiple roadway users, not just vehicles. No One-Size-Fits-All Approach Those principles look different in every project. Detroit’s Riopelle Street project shows us how transportation planning can make an active neighborhood even more lively. Riopelle is in the heart of the Eastern Market, where the bustling Saturday farmers’ market, community events, and Lions tailgating bring hordes of visitors, while small businesses and nightlife have lured new residential developments. After multiple public meetings provided valuable insight, OHM Advisors designed an innovative shared street concept that includes dedicated on-street parking, upgraded sidewalks with decorative paved walkways, ADA-compliant ramps and curb bump-outs, and a landscaped parking lot.

OHM Advisors OHM Advisors is the community advancement firm. Our diverse, mission-driven team works collaboratively across multiple service areas, including architecture, engineering, planning, urban design and landscape architecture, surveying, and construction engineering. With more than 650 employees located throughout Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Indiana (Greater Louisville area), our team partners with leaders at all levels of government, school districts, developers, universities, and private companies to create better places for people.

Auburn Road transformed from a long thoroughfare to a community destination, with inviting landscaping, roundabouts to control traffic flow, and well-marked pedestrian crossings.

Riopelle is an example of a Complete Street that enhances a neighborhood’s sense of place through its blend of street uses, colorful design, and lighting.

Artwork and custom gateway signage create memorable moments for people traveling Auburn Road on foot or by car.

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