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SDOT’s Complete Streets Website Garnering Nationwide Attention


You may have noticed that descriptions of SDOT’s major maintenance and construction projects often mention if the work is a “Complete Street.”  If you’ve been wondering what all that entails, you’re not alone.

As a result of numerous requests for additional information about Seattle’s Complete Streets policies and implementation, SDOT’s Urban Design Lead, Darby Watson, with assistance from the Traffic Management and Policy and Planning staff, developed a website to thoroughly address that topic. Watson says she wanted to create a website that demystified Complete Streets by covering the gamut from “ordinance to asphalt.”  And well she did, so much so, that the site is garnering kudos from transportation twitterers around the country who are citing the website’s clarity and comprehensiveness. 

Watson, whose background is in urban planning, explains that there is a direct correlation between the design of a street and improving safety for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, persons of all abilities as well as for motorists, including the movement of freight. She boils down the guiding theory behind complete streets with the following example:  “Complete Streets will often provide improved crossings, good lighting and sidewalks for pedestrians; bicycle lanes, sharrows or wide outside lanes for bicyclists; adequate lane width for freight and transit operation; convenient transit stops for transit riders; and street trees, landscaping and other features such as improved lighting that make streets good for community life.  Seattle recognizes that implementing Complete Streets requires that we make careful design decisions that are based on data, informed by adjacent land use and community experience, and anticipate future needs.” Since 2007, SDOT has built 38 Complete Street projects. 

If you’d like to get a better handle on the what, where, how and why of complete streets, be sure to visit the Complete Streets website.