Implementation Must Follow Policy

Christine GreenOn the heels of our Greater Washington, DC area regional Complete Streets policy, the National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC) released their 2011 Policy Analysis and a new Local Policy Workbook. The policy analysis provides in-depth explanation of the 10 elements of a Complete Streets policy with example policy language. The workbook walks you through all 10 steps, asked questions that help you write your policy and provides examples.

This is great timing for Greater Washington, DC. I have been talking with elected officials about their Complete Streets policies and asking more communities to adopt their own policies. For some communities without policies, I commonly hear, which I am sure is not unique to my experience, “we are doing it.”  And for some communities with policies, I hear from advocates who are not happy with implementation.

This is why these two resources are so beneficial. For those communities without policies, the local policy workbook gives a list of questions and suggestions for implementation actions. My favorite suggestion is to convene an implementation committee with stakeholders from various departments and advocates. Having this structure assigns responsibility. It also allows the people around the table to tailor implementation to their community and to find what works for their unique situation.

For communities with policies or those who “are doing it,” the policy analysis details the four steps to implementation. We can ask our elected officials and transportation department staff how they have addressed the four steps. Briefly, the implementation steps include 1) changing procedures and processes to accommodate all users on every project; 2) developing or revising design guidelines; 3) training staff and the community; 4) developing better ways to measure performance and collect data on how well streets are serving all users. Having the four steps helps to guide the conversation positively and hopefully eliminates staff feeling as if we are pointing the finger at them.

In the Greater Washington, DC region, we had three policies scored in the policy analysis. Washington, DC ranks fourth in their category while Montgomery County ranks third. The City of Rockville ranks in the middle. Ultimately, the score does not matter if the policy is implemented and all three are doing fabulous work.  

Washington, DC has installed 56 miles of bike lanes and 2,300 bike racks as well as starting a very successful bike share. In a previous blog, I detailed Montgomery County’s success in reducing pedestrian collisions. Finally, the City of Rockville, has an inter-departmental committee of people who gather around the table to talk about their bicycle and pedestrian projects, the coordination makes for better projects. They have 20 miles of multi-use paths and 20 miles of signed bike routes in their 13 square mile community. They have also included bicycle parking and shower facilities in their zoning code.

For more information on the Greater Washington, DC region, please see our regional website.