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'Complete Streets' policies more popular in Michigan's urban areas

June 18, 2015

Complete Streets, policies that encourage local governments to take all users—pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users and drivers—into account when designing and constructing roads, have a good deal of support among Michigan local officials, but haven't exactly caught on outside of urban areas.

Among officials familiar with the Complete Streets concept, 48 percent reported they would somewhat or strongly support the policies in their jurisdictions. Just 9 percent surveyed by the University of Michigan's Michigan Public Policy Survey said they would oppose them. Support increases to 75 percent among leaders from Michigan's largest jurisdictions, where more complex transportation systems and demands are found.

Despite the support, only 8 percent of local jurisdictions have implemented Complete Streets policies. Nearly half of local officials said their jurisdictions had taken no action, 28 percent said they might consider action, and 19 percent said it was unlikely.

Although legislation promoting the Complete Streets initiative in Michigan was passed nearly five years ago, just another 5 percent of local officials said they have enacted, but not implemented such a policy, and 21 percent take the initiative's goals into account as they plan and design roads, but have no formal policy.

"Road policy issues have been at the forefront of public debate in Michigan for many months," said Thomas Ivacko, administrator and program manager of the Ford School of Public Policy's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy. "And while road design issues get less attention compared to the ongoing debate over the basic question of how to fund Michigan's roads, they are a key concern at the local level."

Many officials are optimistic about potential positive effects of Complete Streets and relatively few rate the potential impact of Complete Streets as mixed or negative.

The study, conducted Oct. 6-Dec. 11, 2014, involved surveys sent via hard copy and the Internet to top elected and appointed officials in all counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan. A total of 1,356 jurisdictions returned valid surveys, resulting in a 73-percent response rate. The survey had a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey is a program of state-wide surveys of local government leaders in Michigan. Read the full June 2015 report, “Few Michigan jurisdictions have adopted Complete Streets policies, though many see potential benefits," here