New report highlights needed improvements in local policies

With continuing support from Voices for Healthy Kids, we are working with a number of Georgia cities to see adoption and implementation of best practices Complete Streets policies. An essential principle that guides a "best practice" policy is that the policy should focus on the needs, health and mobility outcomes for historically underserved communities. In too many neighborhoods, where many people already bike, walk and use transit, infrastructure investments are few and far between or have been planned and constructed without meaningful engagement with the affected community.

To help guide our work toward achieving more equitable policies, we enlisted the help of Naomi Doerner, an Equity Strategist, to review and assess several local policies in Georgia.

Excerpt:

Regardless of the individual circumstances of a place, it’s widely acknowledged that accessible transportation is a – if not the – lifeline for sustained economic opportunity, prosperity and vitality for individuals and communities. Without healthy transportation options – people and communities are significantly and detrimentally weakened and often suffer poor outcomes across a variety of livability and quality-of-life indicators. Therefore, policies and funding mechanisms that support transportation planning and projects are of vital importance. Transportation ensures that people have equitable access to physical mobility – the ability of all people, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, ability and/or socioeconomic status, to safely pass through public spaces and travel to and from the places they need and want to go – and economic mobility – the ability for all people to access employment opportunities, affordable housing and accumulate wealth.

 

Several counties, cities and regions within Georgia have Complete Streets resolutions or policies on the books, however implementation has lagged, and much needed improvements for non-motorized road user safety have not been pursued to the fullest opportunity.

 

For the purposes of the analyzing and evaluating Complete Streets equity, research and analysis was conducted on the five priority cities identified where resolutions or policies had already been adopted and the greatest potential for equitable implementation exists. Those five cities are: Athens, Columbus, Gainesville, Milledgeville, and Savannah.

Key recommendations for all of the cities include:

1.     Form a Complete Streets Advisory Council

2.     Use an Equity Impact Assessment Tool

3.     Develop a Complete Streets Implementation Work Plan & Checklist

4.     Prioritize Complete Streets Investments in Traditionally Underserved Communities

Our thanks to Ms. Doerner, local partners, and everyone who helps advance safe, balanced transportation options in Georgia. Our hope is that this analysis will fuel productive conversations in these cities - and beyond - to foster needed safety and quality of life improvements in a fair and equitable manner.

For specific recommendations for these five Georgia cities, read the full report.