Understanding Complete Streets

Transforming Communities.

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Complete Streets

Complete Streets are planned to be safe and accessible for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists and drivers; all users regardless of age or ability. The Minnesota Legislature passed a Complete Streets law in 2010, which directs a supportive Minnesota Department of Transportation to transition to Complete Streets.

Learn more about the Complete Streets initiative in Minnesota

Learn more about Complete Streets at the national level


     Final WALC report for New Ulm                   WALC Report Fact Sheet

Why is There a Need for Complete Streets?

Our surroundings or environment determines the decisions we make on a daily basis. To a certain degree, the layout of our streets and neighborhood design dictate whether we choose to walk or bike to work, school or play. In fact, as a result of how our environment is designed, we make several decisions every day that are practically automatic, because these decisions are so ingrained in our lives.

For example, if we live in an area that is pleasant to walk to in and there is a destination close by, we are more likely to walk than if we live in an area that doesn’t feel safe, is in disrepair, or is too far from any destination point.

Our town or city streets are an important factor in how livable our communities are. Streets make up the largest public area in any town or city and belong to all of us. Currently, many streets or roads are not safe for use by all residents – including children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.

By making changes to the environment, communities can help promote and support physical activity, which in turn improves our physical, emotional and social health and well-being.

What do Complete Streets Involve?

Complete Streets are designed with all users in mind, regardless of ability or age. A Complete Streets policy ensures that engineers and transportation planners consistently design the streets with this in mind. No two streets are the same; the street features and design are determined by context, road function, speed of traffic, topography, pedestrian and bicycle demand among other things. Based on context, common features of Complete Streets include:

  • Sidewalks
  • Paved shoulders
  • Bike lanes
  • Bus stop access
  • Sidewalk “bump-outs” at intersections
  • Safe crossing points
  • Accessible curb ramps
  • Pedestrian refuge medians
  • Access to adjacent trails in a “corridor”

What is Project Doing for Complete Streets?

During the first year of the grant (October 2012 through September 2013), The Heart of Brown County Project is working primarily in New Ulm to provide education and increase awareness among New Ulm residents about the safety, health and economic benefits associated with the implementation of a Complete Streets framework. Project staff are organizing a group of local citizens with an interest in bicycling and walking to give educational Complete Streets presentations to local service groups and organizations.

In year two (October 2013 through September 2014), individuals from around Brown County with an interest in improving safety for pedestrian and bicyclists across the county will be recruited to work together to provide education and increase awareness in Springfield and Sleepy Eye. This group of individuals will take the lessons learned from working in New Ulm and incorporate them in their work throughout Brown County.



Watch for our new Hearts Beat Back website and solutions coming soon!

If you’re looking to improve the health of your community, our evidence-based population health solutions are a great place to start. Building on our success with Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, we can provide you with technical assistance and consultation on assessment, strategy development, program development and evaluation, along with presentations to help you achieve improved population health.

Email us at [email protected] for more information and please check back here soon for more details.