complete street in Brooklyn
NYCDOTA tree-lined “complete street” grows in Brooklyn.

Earlier this month, a pair of senators introduced the Safe Streets Act. The bill would bring “complete streets” principles to federal road funding. Complete streets accommodate all users, regardless of whether they’re in cars, regardless of age or disability — pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, stroller pushers. In practice, this often means streets with sidewalks and bike lanes — two features that are often missing from roads built in the last half-century.

For too long, traffic engineers simply asked how to move cars as quickly as possible, rather than how to make streets safe to walk along or cross on foot. But now complete-streets policies have been adopted in more than 610 jurisdictions across the U.S., requiring local transportation departments to take the interests of non-drivers into account. The Senate complete-streets bill would require all federally funded road construction or repair to do the same.