What are Complete Streets, and what do they mean to the North End and its largely transit dependent population? Well, in Michigan, the legislation defines Complete Streets as “roadways planned, designed, and constructed to provide appropriate access to all legal users…whether by car, truck, transit, assistive device, foot or bicycle.” The law further requires Complete Streets policies be sensitive to the local context, and consider the functional class, cost, and mobility needs of all legal users. The primary¬† purpose of these new laws is to encourage development of Complete Streets as appropriate to the context and cost of a project.”

Wikipedia ¬† http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complete_streets defines it similarly, “a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, bicycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods”

So how is sensitivity to local context and consideration of the “functional class, cost, and mobility needs of all legal users” determined? I am guessing that the 750,000.00 budget Parsons Brinkherhoff had for their study would not have much left over for 6 figure salaries if the consultants actually went around and asked the people affected, or maybe duh, used census statistics. So for sure, distributing questionnaires was not an option. Instead, the 27 mile corridors were divided into “communities” . Read this as cities when counting people-regardless of population density. Communities also included seem to have been the business, investment, and development communities, and some special interest groups, whose concerns did not mirror those of the resident community.

Actual residents are being consulted, now that opportunities to participate in decision making are closed. We are shown lovely, palm tree studded pictures of California, Florida, Nevada, and Canada, then pictures of our own streets and asked to indicate which look better. The cities pictured seem to have all had viable local public transit systems in place-using their buses was probably made more pleasant by having a shady bench to sit on for a 5 minute wait-in Detroit, a bench is more likely to be where you sleep if you lose your job, because, even after leaving home hours before your shift, 4 buses pass you by and it takes you 2 hours to get moving to work.