“[With this proposal], we hope that all uses are accommodated for as best as possible, from the planning and design stage forward,” said Tobin Alexandra-Young of Shared Access Saratoga, who presented the proposal to the City Council during their Tuesday, April 17 meeting. “This policy creates a framework for a culture change to take place in Saratoga.”
The Complete Streets policy would ask future building projects affecting roadways within the city of Saratoga Springs to consider accommodating as many modes of transportation as possible, from creating a dedicated bike lane to adding shared roadway signage, crosswalks, lane striping, sidewalks, bus pull outs and more. The policy hopes to foster a safe environment for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit users alike.
The proposal builds upon a similar policy signed into statewide law in August 2011 by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which requires Complete Street design guidelines be considered for projects funded by state or federal dollars. Alexandra-Young and other like-minded individuals are hoping to extend this policy to include privately funded projects as well.
“This does not require any roads to be dug up, and this should not stop any projects,” explained Alexandra-Young.
What the policy does ask, said Alexandra-Young, is that new projects consider accommodating multiple modes of transportation in their planning and design phase by using a Complete Streets Checklist.
“This [checklist] shall list Complete Streets’ basic practices that have been integrated into the project design and how user groups, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders are accommodated. It will also list if any user groups were not accommodated and the reasons why,” reads the proposal.
Over 20 different civic groups, organizations and businesses assisted Shared Access Saratoga in drafting the Complete Streets policy, including the Saratoga Springs Police Department, Saratoga’s Pubic Safety and Engineering offices, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Special Assessment District, Bonacio Construction, Sustainable Saratoga, Saratoga Healthy Transportation Network, Saratoga Hosptial, AARP, Sustainable Skidmore, Capital District Transportation Authority, Cool Cities, Safe Routes to School, Elan Planning Design and Landscape Architecture, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and more.
“The Complete Streets adoption will become part of who we are as a city,” said Jim Letts, CEO of the Saratoga Regional YMCA at the Tuesday meeting. “It will help keep us competitive as a world class destination with other communities.”
Others, including Erin Mitchell, associate state director at AARP, voiced their support at the meeting.
“Complete Streets only enhances and encourages people to come and live, work and visit Saratoga Springs,” added Mitchell. “It will make the roadways and downtown a more attractive place to be.”
Other organizations, including Sustainable Skidmore and Sustainable Saratoga, laud the Complete Streets program for its positive effects on the environment.
“This proposed policy is on target with the city’s Climate Smart Community efforts for reducing emissions,” said Mayor Scott Johnson. “It also brings attention to our existing shared access opportunities downtown and outlines an approach for an improved, transparent process to promoting shared access citywide.”
While the proposal seemed to garner widespread support from those in attendance, including several City Council members (there were no voices of dissent), the policy will have to wait until next month’s meeting before it is officially voted on. If approved, a seven-member advisory committee will be created to review project proposals and zoning codes, as well as to assist builders in accommodating Complete Street guidelines and objectives.
“We believe the city will become nationally-known for cycling,” said Dan Lynch of the Saratoga Healthy Transportation Network. “[The policy] will help make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and the Saratoga Health Transportation network is all for this proposal.”
To view a full draft of the Complete Streets policy, visit www.saratoga-springs.org and click on “Draft Complete Streets Policy” on the upper right section of the page.