A Complete Streets Policy for Saratoga Springs

After a year of advocacy, the city of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. has adopted a complete streets policy, setting a high bar for New York municipalities to address various ways to make roads safer for all users.

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A little over a year ago, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and local advocate Tobin Alexandra-Young brought together a wide variety of community stakeholders and leaders in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. to develop a plan to make the city’s roads safer for all users. On Tuesday night, that effort — dubbed “Shared Access, Saratoga” — got its first victory when the Saratoga Springs City Council unanimously adopted the complete streets policy drafted by the group and immediately set up a schedule to appoint the new Shared Access Advisory Board.

The complete streets policy sets a high bar for New York municipalities and identifies items that the city must address soon, including:

  • The appointment of advisory board members;
  • The development of a complete streets checklist for all public and private projects; and
  • Identifying regulations in the city’s zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations that could be enhanced to incorporate the new policy.

For the long term, the policy also calls for a plan that includes a map illustrating gaps in the city’s pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure.

It always helps to have a local brain trust to draw upon. Jacyln Hakes, senior planner at Saratoga-based Elan Planning and former planner for the City of Saratoga Springs, was a member of the SAS group and the primary drafter of the complete streets policy, which is now being used as a model in Westchester County’s “Complete Streets in a Box” toolkit.

Although the SAS group was not sanctioned by the city, Alexandra-Young was careful to include Saratoga Springs’ planner, engineer, police department and Department of Public Works around the decision-making table. He also kept city council members up to date on the group’s activities.

With such strong local support, including lots of advocacy from AARP, the council couldn’t resist something that was seen as a no-brainer for the community.

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Tags: infrastructurebikingwalkabilitycomplete streets

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