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Jason Donofrio,
Arizona PIRG Education Fund

New "Urban Streets" Guide Could Help Arizona Become More Walkable, Livable

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phoenix – On Tuesday, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) unveiled its new Urban Street Design Guide, a handbook that can help Arizona’s cities make their streets better for people and business.  The guide recommends that cities treat streets as public spaces for people of all ages and abilities and design streets to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users in addition to motorists. It comes as the City of Phoenix is developing a Complete Streets policy with members of the community.

At the event, the new guide earned praise from Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, who called the guide an “important step” for local and state governments in evolving transportation planning to include more than just motor vehicles. Administrator Mendez is also a former director of the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“It’s exciting to see a national transportation leader support people’s increasing desire to get around by taking transit, biking, and walking,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, a group that supports more public transportation. “As people are seeking alternatives to driving, it’s important for local and state governments to provide them with those transportation options.”

“Streets are public spaces that connect us to the people and places that make our lives worth living. Their design can define the health and vitality of our local neighborhoods and economies,” said Jeremy Stapleton, a local urban designer, bicycle advocate and member of the Phoenix Complete Streets Working Group. “We all deserve to have streets that improve our quality of life by allowing us to live healthy, active lifestyles.”

This new guide comes at a time when Arizonans have reduced their driving miles by 9.3% percent per person since 2006 and the City of Phoenix is looking at adopting a Complete Streets policy, which would call for streets to be designed and built to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users in addition to motorists. Nationally more than 500 jurisdictions have adopted Complete Streets policies, but Scottsdale is the only city in Arizona to have a Complete Streets policy at this time.

The Phoenix City Council is expected to vote on the Complete Streets policy in early 2014. After the policy is adopted, design guidelines will need to be developed. “The new Urban Streets Design Guide should serve as an excellent foundation for how the City of Phoenix can make our streets safe and accessible for everyone,” said Stapleton.

“The Arizona Department of Transportation and local governments across the state should be doing everything they can to integrate walking, bicycling and taking transit into their transportation plans,” said Unrein.

See other recent reports on declines in driving, the Millennial generation’s leading role in this trend, and the policy implications at: http://arizonapirg.org/topics/transportation.

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