Oxford, MS | Complete Streets Report (PDF) | Sept 2008
Michael Ronkin. Designing Streets for Bicyclists and Pedestrians and Michael Moule
Livable Streets, Inc.
Complete Streets Policy
The overarching recommendation is for the City of Oxford to adopt a "Complete Streets" policy so all users (drivers, bicyclists, transit users and pedestrians of all ages and abilities) are routinely considered during the planning, design, construction, and operation of all roadways. The complete streets concept focuses not just on individual roads but on changing the decision-making and design process: it requires policy and institutional changes. A complete streets policy assumes bicyclist and pedestrian needs are met on every street project. It does not mean that every street looks the same: user needs, context, costs, environmental impacts and other externalities are considered in the decision-making process. With this approach, a stand-alone Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan may no longer be needed; the recommendations contained in the existing plan can be folded into a revised comprehensive plan or transportation plan that incorporates the complete streets approach.
This report also contains recommendations for selected policies, standards, designs and project recommendations in existing plans that fold in complete streets concepts. Others are more specific design details that simply serve pedestrians and bicyclists better; in most cases they serve drivers better too. The City of Oxford Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and the Land Development Code are reviewed in greater detail. Summary of outstanding recommendations:
Oxford Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
- Adopt complete streets principles that encourage low-cost, small-scale but meaningful improvements as part of every project, both public and private.
- Adopt higher design standards that reduce long-term maintenance costs.
Land Development Code
- Encourage connectivity, whether through streets (preferred) or pathways, so walking and biking (and driving) distances are reduced between destinations.
- Adopt codes that encourage pedestrian-friendly site design.
- Adopt sidewalk design standards that adapt to all contexts, by using the zone system.
Mississippi DOT issues
- There are few MDOT highways in Oxford that function as city streets. The highways that encircle Oxford intersect with city streets with substantial bicyclist and pedestrian use. The City and MDOT are encouraged to adopt bicyclist and pedestrian-friendly intersection designs.
University of Mississippi Issues
- The city and university are encouraged to collaborate on bicyclist and pedestrian access to and from the university. The university is encouraged to adopt policies that restrict the use of private cars on campus, and facilitate bicyclist and pedestrian circulation within campus. The report expands these concepts in greater detail
Proposed Complete Streets Guiding Principles
The Complete Street Coalition recommends these principles, elements and implementation strategies:
- The Principle
- Complete streets are routinely designed and operated so pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across all streets. The entire right-of-way must provide safe access for all users.
- Creating complete streets means changing transportation agency policies and practices; all road projects should result in a complete street appropriate to local context and needs.
- Elements of a Good Complete Streets Policy
- Addresses pedestrians, bicyclists, transit operators and users of all ages and abilities.
- Aims to create a comprehensive, integrated and connected network.
- Recognizes the need for flexibility: all streets are different and user needs will be balanced; solutions must fit in with context of the community.
- Is adoptable by all agencies to cover all roads, and applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance and operations, for the entire right-of-way.
- Makes exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure requiring high-level approval of exceptions.
- Directs the use of the latest and best design standards.
- Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
- Implementation; an effective complete streets policy should prompt The City of Oxford to:
- Restructure its procedures to accommodate all users on every project.
- Rewrite its design manuals to encompass the safety of all users.
- Retrain planners and engineers in balancing the needs of diverse users.
- Create new data collection procedures to track how well the streets are serving all users.
Model Guiding Principle;
This sample policy could be adapted to meet Oxford's need, context and conditions:
Oxford will plan for, design and construct all new transportation projects to provide appropriate accommodation for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities, while promoting safe operation for all users. This principle will apply to roads and streets built by the city and private developers. The complete streets principle will be incorporated into the city's; Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan; Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Land Development Code and other City plans, manuals, rules, regulations and programs as appropriate. All transportation projects shall reflect the land-use, historic character and transportation needs of the local community and the citywide transportation network and adhere to the latest and best design guidelines.
Exceptions to any bicyclist, pedestrian and/or transit element may be granted to private developers only under the procedures outlined in the Land Development Code.
Exceptions to the policy for city projects may be granted only under the following conditions:
- There is no need, based on current or anticipated (future) use;
- The cost is excessively disproportionate to the need, based on current or anticipated use;
- The project is routine maintenance with no significant change to the design of the roadway.
- Any exceptions to this policy require written justification, documentation, and approval by the City of Oxford Mayor and Board of Aldermen.