The Atlantic Cities’ Emily Badger reports today on a “seismic” policy shift in Chicago that bodes well for us all.
The Chicago Department of Transportation now has Complete Streets Design Guidelines.
From now on, in the design guidelines for every effort from major streetscape projects to minor roadside electrical work, she writes, transportation work must defer to a new ‘default modal hierarchy.’ The pedestrian comes first.
The article points out that city design for generations has bowed to the car as the primary means of getting around and that drivers have come to expect that. It’s encouraging to know that Chicago has put that practice in reverse. It is time for all municipalities and for national transportation policy to reflect on the role of driving in our culture and push it back in class.
Transit, bicycling and walking should all be elevated above the car and funding to do that should back the political will to.
In the article, Janet Attarian, the Chicago transportation department’s complete streets project director is quoted as saying, “We’re not talking about necessarily closing roads down, making them just for pedestrians. It’s about really understanding how you layer safety and placemaking and supporting economic development into this process of designing your roadway.”
From the article: “My feeling is that we have to swing the pendulum in the other direction,” says Gabe Klein, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Transportation. “The fact is that the transit user is also a pedestrian, a cyclist is also a pedestrian, an auto user is also a pedestrian. You may not chose to do the other modes every day, but every day you’re a pedestrian.”
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