Creating Policy and Advocating for Complete Streets in Roosevelt
by DANA FAISON
Regardless of age, race, gender or ability, everyone has the right to travel on safe streets in their own community. Recently many communities across the country have created Complete Streets on major roads where there are safety concerns. The National Complete Streets Coalition defines Complete Streets as, “streets that are designed and operated for the propose of providing safe access for all users”. These users include: pedestrians, bicyclist, motorist, public transportation riders, elderly, children, individuals with disabilities and more. Complete Streets effectively gives community members the ability to cross streets safely, visit stores and use any means of transportation to get to work and school.
Besides safety concerns, Complete Streets can have a positive effect on the economy of a community and promote healthy living practices. In San Francisco, businesses saw sales increase by 6% - local business owners credited this to the increase of pedestrians and bicycle activity, due to the addition of a bike lane that was added along a major road. Construction and road improvements for the creation of Complete Street has created construction jobs in numerous communities. These Complete Street have also established the importance of health in communities and residents by promoting physical activity.
If streets are only designated just for cars, it limits a community member’s ability to choose a more active means of travel. These “incomplete streets” prevent people from finding opportunities to be active in their daily lives. By including features such as wider
sidewalks for daily walking and bicycle lanes, will encourage community members to increase their physical activity. This is especially needed in communities that have high rates of chronic illnesses like obesity.
COMMUNITY'S VISION FOR COMPLETE STREETS
In Roosevelt, a focus group meeting was held 2017, with community members and community stakeholders hosted by Sustainable Long Island and Choice for All. The objective of this meeting was to start a conversation about Complete Streets – addressing walkability issue areas, as well as, park and open spaces concerns in the Roosevelt community.
During this meeting, the focus group gave responses on what Complete Streets projects or features they would like to see in the neighborhood. Their responses included: street trees, wider sidewalks, bike lanes and bus stops with benches & covering. The focus group created a map listing 13 points that were Complete Street areas of concerns. These points were placed along the major roads in Roosevelt, Nassau Road & Babylon Turnpike and along the residential street areas of Roosevelt, such as Centennial Avenue, Washington Avenue and East Clinton Avenue. The outcome of the focus group meeting displayed community members supported the concept of Complete Streets in Roosevelt.
RESEARCH IN ACTION
Our team of Community Health Navigators reviewed the existing work in an effort to launch the “Roosevelt Complete Streets Coalition” set to launch in April 2019 with a health research intern, Dr. Kashayar Farhoomandi from St. George’s University School of Medicine – Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine. The team, with Dr. Farhoomandi, investigated each of the areas echoed as an issue connected with Complete Streets by documenting the physical location or site of concern. Additionally, any and all improvements or impediments observed were noted and documented.
For example, one improvement found was around Washington Rose Elementary School where speed limit signs and crosswalks have been included around the school. (See Figure 1).
Meanwhile areas such as Bennett Avenue & Babylon Turnpike that have massive potholes and construction vehicles parked in front of homes, have yet to see any changes (See Figure 2).
A map was created to include to the Complete Street issues areas found by the focus group along with additional Complete Street issues areas that the CHN’s had identified. This map will be included into the Roosevelt Healthy Resource Map Choice for All is creating, to help residents become knowledgeable of the healthy resources that are available in Roosevelt (See Figure 3).
POLICIES & FUTURE STEPS
To ensure the longevity of Complete Streets in Roosevelt, policies have to be put in place. By working with the Town of Hempstead who is in charge of residential streets within Roosevelt and Nassau County who is in charge of the major roads in Roosevelt, Choice for All can connect with government planning supervisors and engineers to make sure the Complete Streets are inspected often and completed the correct way.