Make streets safe for walking and biking



Saves lives, lowers asthma rates, builds community as it allows all to travel, meet and do business on streets, improves health of residents and removes bicyclists from sidewalks


Improves air quality, lowers traffic congestion and saves energy


Encourages local commercial activity, brings new retail and development to attractive functional streets, reduces commute time and frees up parking

NGC 2010 Poll

of Philadelphians favor increased public funding to make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. The need for improvement is great. In 2010, more than one in six Philadelphians avoided a bike trip because they had no safe route.

Peer Cities

Seattle, San Francisco, and St. Louis.
City Council can ensure that pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and persons with disabilities can travel safely on Philadelphia streets by requiring that all street improvement projects be planned, designed and constructed to meet complete streets goals.

Philadelphians bike and walk to work, shop, and recreate, with one in four trips taken by pedestrians. One in 10 workers from nearby neighborhoods commute to Center City by bicycle and 8,000 more bicyclists commute to work today than did in 2000.[1] By improving our street network so Philadelphians can walk, bike, drive or ride to their destinations, we will alleviate traffic, reduce demand for parking, improve air quality and offer residents an inexpensive way to commute during tough economic times.

A complete street is a road that is designed to be safe for drivers, bicyclists, transit users and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. A complete street may include bike lanes, frequent and safe pedestrian crossings and transit shelters. Complete streets lower the number of injuries and deaths on the road.[2]

The groundwork for complete streets has been laid. The mayor issued an Executive Order on June 4, 2009 that encouraged city agencies to consider complete streets design.[3] The city is in the process of creating a design handbook for complete streets. The Planning Commission is in the second phase of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan that prioritizes improvements for pedestrian and bike travel.[4]

A complete streets ordinance will require the city to accommodate Philadelphians who bike or walk when it repaves or reconstructs a road section in the course of regular roadwork. It will not require the immediate redesign of all existing roads, but significant road projects will be required to incorporate complete streets design.   

Since adopting its complete streets policies in 1971, Portland, OR. has saved its residents $1.1 million annually in gas costs and has seen a 12.5 percent reduction in harmful transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions.[5]


Roads should receive complete streets improvements as part of a transparent and accountable process. The Nutter administration should share its annual paving plan, including a detailed list of proposed complete streets improvements with the public. Where a complete streets approach is not viable for a project, the paving plan should state a very specific reason for exemption (e.g., road is too narrow to accommodate all users) that is approved by the Streets Department Commissioner. The ordinance should direct the city to integrate complete streets practices into all transportation plans, manuals, rules, regulations and programs as appropriate. And it should specify that all sources of transportation funding can be used to implement complete streets. The formation of a Complete Streets Task Force would help to ensure consistent implementation.


Adding trees and plantings to create green streets is a cost-effective way to get the most out of streets by creating better roads that can prevent polluting stormwater runoff from overwhelming sewers.





[1] Center City Reports: Bicycles (July 2010); Planning Commission Meeting, Presentation of the Pedestrian and Bike Plan (October 19, 2010); 2000 U.S. Census and 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

[2] National Complete Streets Coalition Safety Fact Sheet

[3] Executive Order No. 5-09 Establishment Of A Complete Streets Policy (June 4, 2009).

[4] Phase One of the Plan as well as information about Phase 2 can be found at

[5] Joe Cortright, Portland’s Green Dividend, CEOs for Cities (July 2007)