Wikipedia defines complete streets as “roadways designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users.” It goes on to say that, “Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transport users of all ages and abilities are able to safely and comfortably move along and across a complete street. Proponents claim that Complete Streets also create a sense of place and improve social interaction, while generally improving property adjacent land values.” While Carson City does not currently have a Complete Streets policy, we are starting to see more of them around town.
The first picture here is of Roop Street at Lone Mountain. As you can see, this is NOT a complete street. In fact, pedestrian traffic is prohibited! Taking the bike over this hill is a bit scary, since the traffic is fast, and the lanes are not well defined. It’s a shame too, because Roop Street/Silver Sage is the only street besides HWY 395 that completely traverses Carson City without interruption. All other routes make you zig zag around town.
The second picture is of Northridge Drive, a complete street. Let’s take a look at what’s going on here. Automobile traffic is kept at a reasonable speed with 25mph speed limits and narrow lanes. There are also three round-a-bouts that you can’t see in the picture that keep traffic slower, but flowing. On either side of the car lanes, there are two wide, clearly marked bicycle lanes.
The pedestrian sidewalk has a nice planted buffer between it and the faster moving traffic. Not only is this visually appealing, but is also safer for dog walkers and wandering children. Additionally, notice that the sidewalk meanders along the road, side-to-side and up-and-down, creating an inviting and interesting place to walk. Another nice touch is the frequent lighting along the sidewalk that makes the sidewalk nice to use in the evenings too.
It is a common sight to see people out on Northridge Drive, both getting exercise and using it as is an alternate transportation route. Like they say, “Build it, and they will come!”. Learn more about Complete Streets over on the National Complete Streets Coalition website.