Complete Streets take into consideration all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and….equestrian vehicles?
For the past four weeks, Yvonne Verlinden, this summer’s Complete Streets Intern at TCAT, has been looking at Complete Streets in rural contexts. She discovered a deep need for this approach, with motor vehicles deaths two to three times higher in rural areas, and 11 out of every 100 pedestrian collisions being fatal, as opposed to two per 100 in urban areas. While life in the countryside is often associated with owning a car or a truck, many rural residents live without and face difficulties in their daily lives as a result of a lack of transportation alternatives.
Many municipalities across Canada are using Complete Streets to address these issues. The Region of Waterloo is installing Bike and Buggy Lanes along rural main streets. The City of Thunder Bay added an Active Living Corridor to a rural road, completing an important active transportation link to a popular park. And the District of Clearwater, a town of less than 3,000, passed its own Road Cross-Section Bylaw and is using it to secure active transportation infrastructure from developers.
However, the road isn’t always smooth, and challenges include balancing the needs of those traveling through with those of the local population, working cooperatively with a regional or provincial government who may have jurisdiction over the roadway, and clearly articulating the economic case for a Complete Streets approach to build public and political support. It is hoped that this backgrounder will help municipalities who are tackling these issues and showcase what is possible as we start to re-consider our rural roads.