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Cook County embraces Complete Streets
This blog post is one in a series of stories featuring some of the great things happening in suburban Chicago communities. The stories will focus on Chicagoland communities that are on the forefront of the movement to encourage healthy, active transportation like walking, biking and public transit.
These are communities Active Trans had the privilege to work with as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, a federally-funded program aimed at creating healthier and more active lifestyles throughout the nation.
It’s a substantial triumph when the second largest county in the United States begins to fully embrace the Complete Streets philosophy. Now that it has a Complete Streets policy on its books, Cook County has set a national example for making active transportation safer and easier.
After the groundwork was laid with a Complete Streets executive order in 2009, the county decided to take a stronger approach and put in place a Complete Streets ordinance that would be used and enforced. After the ordinance was drafted, it was unanimously approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
But the highway department didn’t stop there. It created a policy to ensure that the new ordinance wouldn’t be ignored. Now, any exceptions to multi-modal accommodations require approval from the highway department superintendent.
To cap off this remarkable achievement, the highway department became one of the first users of a new manual that gives detailed instructions on designing active transportation facilities to suit the wide variety of development landscapes of suburban Cook County. The manual — Complete Streets, Complete Networks: A Manual for the Design of Active Transportation — was created by Active Transportation Alliance with input from national and local experts in roadway design. It’s available at atpolicy.org/design.
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