September 27, 2018
As part of the Triboro EcoDistrict Initiative, the Boroughs of Sharpsburg, Millvale, and Etna have joined over 1,300 municipalities across the United States and adopted Complete Streets Policies, becoming just the second, third and fourth communities in Allegheny County to do so.
A Complete Streets Policy is a tool that municipalities use to set the vision for the streets of their community. They help ensure that streets and sidewalks are safe and accessible to people of all ages and abilities, whether they walk, bike, take transit, drive, or roll a wheelchair by ensuring that all users of a roadway are considered early in a street project’s design process. Complete Streets Policies puts the onus on decision makers to show why all modes can’t be accommodated, as opposed to the community needing to prove why the accommodation is necessary.
“Everywhere we visit, people want to be able to safely walk around their neighborhood,” says Eric Boerer, BikePGH Advocacy Director, “Complete Streets Policies help make sure their vision for a healthy and safe community come first.”
For the past two years, a diverse coalition, consisting of nonprofit and government agencies including the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), Bike Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Economic Development, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, the American Heart Association, Allegheny County Health Department, and others have provided Allegheny County municipalities with the education, advice, support, and technical resources to assist in their adoption of Complete Streets policies.
Late last year, Sharpsburg become the first municipality in the County outside of Pittsburgh to adopt a Complete Streets policy. This August, the Boroughs of Millvale and Etna joined ranks, passing resolutions only a week apart.
The passing of Complete Streets policies is in alignment with the Triboro EcoDistrict, a partnership among the Millvale-based nonprofit New Sun Rising, the Etna Economic Development Corp., Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization, and evolveEA that is promoting coordinated sustainable community development throughout the Boroughs of Millvale, Etna and Sharpsburg with a focus on six systems — mobility, air quality, water, energy, food, and social equity.
“Complete Streets policy adoption among the Triboro partners at the Boroughs of Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg further demonstrates that multi-municipal collaboration is the norm, not the exception,” shares New Sun Rising’s Triboro EcoDistrict Director Brian Wolovich.
“In Sharpsburg, where nearly one-third of households don’t have access to a personal vehicle, safe walking and biking routes and connections to public transit have a huge impact on residents’ quality of life and access to opportunity,” says Brittany Reno, executive director for Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization and Sharpsburg Borough council president. “A commitment to Complete Streets in Sharpsburg has meant a strengthened focus on public health, safety, and freedom of movement for all the people who live and visit here.”
By setting expectations as early as possible, Complete Streets Policies will help future development and road projects succeed, earning the trust of the community from the beginning.
“The Complete Streets policy helps us look holistically at how transportation happens in our community and how we can enable it to happen in an equitable manner for all, said Mary Ellen Ramage, Manager of Etna Borough. “When surveyed, mobility was the issue residents said affected them the most in their daily lives. This encourages and teaches us to see the whole picture and not just the surface of the road when planning projects.”
All three municipalities have previously demonstrated leadership in sustainability by earning certification through the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program, which recognizes and promotes municipalities in Pennsylvania for completing actions in all aspects of sustainability. A Complete Streets Policy is a comprehensive way to use sustainability principles to strengthen a community’s mobility options, and is reflected in the Sustainable PA Community Certification Assessment in Section 21, Mobility.