Sunday, May 09, 2021

Local News

Madison Nationally Recognized for Complete Streets Policy

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Members of the Ad-Hoc Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee have been out and about in the community this past year, informing residents about the complete streets policy. The town recently placed fifth in the nation in a Complete Streets competition. Photo courtesy of Ellen Weiss

Members of the Ad-Hoc Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee have been out and about in the community this past year, informing residents about the complete streets policy. The town recently placed fifth in the nation in a Complete Streets competition. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Weiss )

Thanks to some hard working volunteers, Madison now has another award to its name. The town recently placed fifth in the nation in a Complete Streets competition, a competition honoring towns across the country for their efforts to develop a multifaceted plan to give residents and visitors more safe ways to move around town without the use of a car.

The Ad-Hoc Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee was charged with developing a Complete Streets Policy for Madison. According to the charge of the committee, “the primary emphasis of the plan shall be to improve the town’s facilities and infrastructure that are critical to making participation in these activities safer and easier, and to promote public participation in the bicycle and pedestrian planning process. In addition to development of a bicycle and pedestrian master plan, [the committee] shall also advise the Board of Selectmen on funding, projects, programs, and policies [that] help promote bicycling and walking as a means of transportation, recreation, and fitness.”

Committee members include Sean Alexander, Bruce Beebe, John Biehn, Jason Engelhart, Liann Herdle, Virginia Raff (Chair), Lynn Stechschulte, David Tommaso, and Ellen Weiss. Student advisors include Sam Hauser and Isaac Lerner. Committee alternates are Toni Davis and Tony West. Town of Madison liaisons are Director of Planning & Economic Development David Anderson and Madison Police Department Captain Joseph Race.

Complete Streets is a movement across the nation designed to support integrated transportation networks that support “all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, persons with disabilities, motorists, transit vehicles, emergency responders, users and operators of public transportation, seniors, children, youth, and families,” according to the policy.

Anderson previously said residents have expressed a need for Madison to be more bike- and pedestrian friendly. He said this policy will be a key tool when the town considers any sort of infrastructure upgrade in the coming years. If, for example, the town plans to rebuild a road, this policy will guide the town to possibly widen the road or include sidewalks in that construction.

The policy was created in June 2018. First Selectman Tom Banisch recognized and thanked the committee for all of its hard work at a recent Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting.

“The bike and pedestrian committee has been hard at work and they have won a complete streets award already,” he said.

The award was handed out by The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. According to a press release, 1,477 communities in the country have adopted complete streets policies. For 2018, towns that made the top 10 list were awarded points for various elements within their complete streets policy.

“These polices are urgently needed,” said Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition in a press release. “The number of people struck and killed while walking has increased by 35 percent in the last decade nationally, at the same time that overall traffic fatalities have been going down. The good news is that we already know the solution: designing and building streets that are safe for everyone who needs to use them. A strong complete streets policy is the first critical step toward making that a reality across the country, and we applaud these ten communities for their hard work to move the ball forward for their residents.”

Madison came in fifth behind Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Baltimore, Maryland. Committee member Weiss said she is happy to see Madison’s Complete Streets policy recognized.

“This is a big deal and we should all be really happy that we have been nationally recognized,” she said. “We have a really great blueprint for success so we should turn this into action.”

Weiss said despite the award, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the policy is incorporated into various town projects and not just left to gather dust.

“Our committee is really thankful for the BOS’s support,” she said. “Today though we would like to ask your support again in implementing the policy. It needs to go from the shelf to the street with all town committees and departments that are involved with planning and design.”

Banisch said he understands the concern and his goal is to get more town departments familiar with the policy so that it is taken into consideration up front when the town constructs or plans for a project.

For more information on the policy and committee, visit Bikewalkmadisonct.org.


Zoe Roos covers news for Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email Zoe at z.roos@shorepublishing.com.

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