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Boca Raton’s Complete Streets Policy

by Jim Wood

On November 28, 2023, the City Council passed Resolution 129-2023 that adopted Boca Raton’s Complete Streets Policy. Although Complete Streets has been in the City’s comprehensive plan for years the policy adoption allows the City to join over 1,700 government entities throughout the United States that have also adopted a policy. The policy language puts more teeth into the Boca Raton’s Complete Streets commitment.

Background

The City of Boca Raton, like most cities in the southern half of the United States has experienced tremendous population growth. To accommodate this growth the City and surrounding metro areas have implemented low density suburban sprawl with a transportation priority on moving motor vehicles faster. This endangers the more vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists and rollers, the most. But vehicle operators are also impacted.

Read this BocaFirst article Uninspired and Unsafe – BocaFirst for an update on Boca’s current bicycle infrastructure situation.

The following graphic Dangerous By Design 2022 – Smart Growth America also illustrates this well. In the prior publication of the Dangerous by Design study Florida was the most dangerous state for pedestrians. Florida is now second to New Mexico.

In addition to City policies that have prioritized moving motor vehicles fast, the motor vehicles themselves have changed to contribute to the problem. Vehicles have become larger, heavier and faster. Vehicle safety features have been designed to protect vehicle occupants but not the people outside the vehicle.

Complete Streets

According to the Complete Streets Coalition “Complete Streets are streets for everyone. Complete Streets is an approach to planning, designing, building, operating, and maintaining streets that enables safe access for all people who need to use them, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.” Complete Streets – Smart Growth America

According to Complete Streets, Complete Networks – Active Transportation Policy (atpolicy.org) the following list represent the key concepts underlying Complete Streets.

Pedestrians Quality – pedestrian facilities include adequate unobstructed walking space, adequate lighting, benches, trees, shading, roadway separation and on-street parking, easy access to walkable destinations, and safe and frequent crossings.

Bicyclists Quality – bicycle facilities include spaces comfortably shared with traffic, clearly marked bike lanes (or appropriate separation based on speed and volume of vehicle traffic), adequate bicycle parking, intersection treatments, and destinations accessible by bike.

Transit Quality – transit facilities include connectivity to the bicycle and pedestrian network, functional shelters, separated/ prioritized travel ways, coordinated land use planning, bike parking, lighting, and walkable and bikeable distances between stops and stations.

Place – Complete Streets are places. They do not simply link destinations; they are destinations in themselves, including places for sidewalk dining, social gathering, exercising, and relaxing. Designing Complete Streets requires an understanding of network priority and context, to move from vision to plans to implementation.

Value – Complete Streets can enhance property value. Streets design can support commerce though such tools as sidewalk dining, street sales, and bike parking.

Boca Raton’s Complete Streets Policy

Boca Raton’s Complete Streets Policy follows the framework recommended by the Smart Growth America/National Complete Streets Coalition Complete Streets Policy Framework – Smart Growth America. The following minimum performance measures are included in the Boca Raton’s Complete Streets Policy and will be published annually.

Number of bicycle parking facilities installed,

Number of traffic calming facilities built / installed,

Linear feet of pedestrian accommodations built or repaired,

Number of crosswalks built or improved,

City transit shuttle system ridership,

Number of ADA accommodations built / installed,

User data – bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and traffic counts,

Number of transit accessibility improvements built,

Bicycle and pedestrian crash data involving serious injuries and fatalities,

Number of signals with leading pedestrian interval ( LPI),

Miles of bicycle lanes, routes, or trails by width and type,

Number of street trees planted,

Number of exceptions approved,

Total dollar amount spent on Complete Streets improvements shown as a proportion to the overall Traffic Capital Improvement Program and Operating Budget.

The City estimates that it will take four to five years to get the Complete Streets policy implemented.

Summary

The City of Boca Raton has taken a big step forward in recognizing that the current transportation environment does not serve the residents well nor is it sustainable. By adopting the Complete Streets policy, the City is starting to get serious about fixing this problem.

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