WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of communities aiming to make their streets safer and more open to all transportation users — regardless of age, ability, income, ethnicity, or mode of travel — is increasing exponentially across the nation, according to the latest National Complete Streets Coalition policy analysis.

More than 350 communities now have Complete Streets policies on their books, with 146 of those policies being adopted in 2011 alone. Such a groundswell of support reflects a growing understanding of and appreciation for streets as something more than just a way to move people in cars from Point A to Point B, the National Complete Streets Coalition said.

“Our first priority has to be safety, and it’s great to see such a surge in Complete Streets policy adoption over the past year,” said National Complete Streets Coalition Director Roger Millar. “But this growth is also reflective of changing times and attitudes about transportation.”

A Complete Streets approach redefines what streets are intended to do; what goals transportation agencies are going to meet; and how communities intend to spend their transportation dollars.

“As residents of communities across the country increasingly desire the ability to walk, bike or take transit to and from jobs, shops and schools, we’re seeing more and more localities understand the importance of providing for all transportation network users,” Millar added. “This is not something that is limited to big or coastal cities — in fact, what we’re seeing is that over one-third of all policies have been adopted in suburban communities with fewer than 30,000 residents, and nearly one in five policies are in small, rural towns.”

“Policy is the first step to addressing the needs of different transportation users and to enhancing safety. While the implementation of such policy is up to local officials and agencies, it’s encouraging to see towns and cities of each and every size invest in more holistic approaches to building and maintaining streets. The safety, health, economic, environmental and quality of life benefits are obvious when you provide for everyone in your community.”

The policy analysis also includes a numerical assessment of each Complete Streets policy nationwide, rating the 350-plus community efforts according to a fixed set of criteria. Local policies of particular note are highlighted throughout the report, providing a comprehensive examination of best policy practices across the country. Taken together with the latest edition of the Coalition’s “Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook,” the document serves as a starting point for transportation experts and interested local leaders to begin mapping out their own Complete Streets policies.

“Now more than ever, the Complete Streets policies we’re seeing are inclusive, diverse and accountable,” Millar said. “That’s a good thing no matter which form of transportation you prefer.”

Download a full copy of the “2011 Complete Streets Policy Analysis” at www.completestreets.org/webdocs/resources/cs-policyanalysis.pdf.