When I was a little boy, sometimes the grown-ups told me they woke up so early to go to their jobs, that streets were still not in place. The American concept of complete streets makes me think that in some places are still for early risers…
A complete street is, according to the definition by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a street designed to enable safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities.
This blog is written from an European perspective; I do not pretend to know the whole of the 27 states of the Union, but I can talk with some knowledge about the two cases I know best, Spain, Italy and France.
The presence of sidewalks, presented as one of the main elements in the American vision, is universal in urban land (but for some historical areas in which usually pedestrians are dominant), although width, and location of poles and signs, are sometimes quite bad; but sometimes the peripheral areas, which are not urban land in planning, can have homes without sidewalks. In illegal building areas the situation is worse.
Bicycles are not always well integrated in the street, and the situation varies from city to city.
Traffic and pedestrians are not always in a balanced relation, and crossing is dangerous in some places. And some other issues raised by the Americans are also sometimes deficiently addressed.
So, in the end, although the Americans are clearly in a worse shape (low densities help), we also have things to correct here in Europe. And from that perspective, it is interesting to read the “Complete Streets- Local Policy Workbook”, specially for the most “Americanized “ European peripheral areas.