March 27, 2015 by Grace Haines, Green Student Intern
The City of Oxford has adopted a new amendment to its Complete Streets policy intended to increase the safety of all road users including pedestrians, bicyclists, disabled persons, transit riders, motorists, and others.
This amendment revises the previous policy adopted in 2011, targeting the need for more strategic and thoughtful design plans for future roadway development projects and recognizing the impact these projects have on Oxford residents.
The National Complete Streets Coalition promotes the development and implementation of policies and professional practices that ensure streets are safe for people of all ages and abilities. In addition to advocating for safe streets, this group conducts the scoring of Complete Streets policies at all levels of government in the United States.
In 2012, Oxford’s policy earned 13.2 out of a possible 100 points, which prompted an amendment to the policy. The coalition scores policies based on 10 elements including the mention of jurisdiction, design standards, performance measures, and implementation plans, among others.
Kate Kellum, chair of the Oxford Pathways Commission, has been involved in the process of completing the city’s streets even before the policy was first adopted. Kellum explained the motivation to update the previous policy has always been in the works since its original creation, but recent research has helped to pinpoint what specific changes need to be implemented. These new findings were a result of the undergraduate senior project that outlined the problem areas of Oxford transportation by Sara Douglass, the Office of Sustainability’s Post Baccalaureate Fellow.
“Sara’s work identified which areas needed to be addressed and enhanced the amendment’s revisions,” Kellum said.
The revised policy highlights the pertinent elements that should be regarded during the construction and maintenance of transportation routes, including users of the road, design standards, and network and connectivity of paths and roadways.
Meghan Coyne, Planning Department Legal Intern and writer of the policy’s revisions, explained, “One notable change is that the Pathways Commission will now be the group responsible for measuring the implementation of the complete streets policy and make an annual report to the Board of Alderman.”
“The changes in the policy will emphasize that future design plans must be more clear and more context specific,” Kellum said. “All users of the road should be able to access all of the great things that Oxford has to offer.”
The Complete Streets policy revisions have a direct impact on how the residents of Oxford interact and access their local environment. Through delineating the inclusion of all pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers in all roadway projects, the amendment ensures better safety measures for local citizens.
Coyne concludes, “It is essential to the city that [all] methods of transportation work in harmony with one another to keep citizens safe, make pathways accessible to all citizens, and to maintain the charm that makes the city of Oxford such a great place to live and visit.”