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How Complete Streets Help Boost a Local Economy

In this article you will learn what a “complete street” is, and how they will help infuse additional revenue into the local economy.

What is a Complete Street?

Complete streets are streets that are essentially designed for the safety of all pedestrians; both motorized and non-motorized.

Complete Streets stem from the concept that roads should serve multiple functions, not just for the mobility of cars and people but also for commerce, recreation, and socialization.

A Complete Street will vary depending on the area’s needs but it should include a number of the following attributes:

Streetscape design and wayfinding devices that facilitate community branding, wider sidewalks, audible pedestrian signals, synchronized traffic signals, prioritized bike lanes, bus lanes and shelters, pedestrian crossing islands, well-situated crosswalks, curb extensions, sidewalk amenities, landscaping all make up a Complete Street.

Now that you know what a Complete Street is like, let’s take a look at the several ways that Complete Streets can benefit the local economy.

1. Citizens have lesser individual costs

14% of an average Canadian’s salary is spent on transportation. Complete Streets lessen this by giving citizens the ability to bike, walk, or commute instead of driving their own car.

2. Local businesses have more opportunities

90% of people who visit shopping streets and linger longer are those that walk or cycle. When people have accessible bike lanes and sidewalks, they are able to support local businesses which promote better money circulation in the local economy.

3. Better allocation of public resources

Complete Streets do not cost much. In fact, it costs less to make one. For comparison, one kilometre of an on-street bike lane only costs $20,000 while a kilometre of a road costs $1.3 million to build.

4. Strong cycle tourism

Cycle tourists spend more money than those who travel the city by car. Making streets more accessible to cyclists means a better cycle tourism.

5. More active citizens that don’t rely on automobiles

Complete Streets provide people of all ages an opportunity to get physical activity and not rely on cars alone. An active community means lower disease rates which means lower healthcare costs.

6. A diverse range of people enjoy going out more

People are happier when they are provided with mobility options whether it’s walking, cycling, commuting, and driving. They are also more likely to engage with neighbours and other pedestrians which results in enhanced neighbourhood security.

7. A safer and cleaner environment for pedestrians and the community

Accessible bike lanes encourage more cycling and less driving. Cyclists also have one-tenth of ecological footprint compared to a commuting driver. This means lesser chances of diseases associated with poor air quality.

8. More efficient and safer roads

A city can lose billions of dollars a year because of lost opportunity caused by traffic congestion. Complete Streets improve the efficiency of existing roads, reduce congestion, and enhance its safety.

In Canada, there is a growing interest to transform the streetscape design to make it more accommodating to all types of pedestrians. Cities that have already begun with a similar initiative include Waterloo, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, and Calgary.

For individuals who wish to see a similar landscape in their streets, you can encourage your own municipality to do the same with the help of case studies and resources available online.

You can even encourage other sectors to participate. Oftentimes, the health sector is the first one to notice since they are more keen to understand the benefits of Complete Streets. Also, look beyond the term “Complete Streets” as some of its concepts can be implemented to existing road renewal projects.

Are there streets in your local area that have similar objectives as Complete Streets? If so, let us know in the comments or contact us if you are looking for a company to help create a Complete Street in your area.

For a comprehensive look at the factors that contribute to an improved economy due to complete streets, take a look at this infographic.


HUBSS Complete streets - infographic