Complete Streets Design Guidelines

April 13, 2013

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today unveiled newly developed Complete Streets design guidelines to insure that Chicago’s roadways are designed and built in a balanced way to improve safety for all users.

“We must build and maintain our roads for healthy business districts, vibrant neighborhoods and high quality of life, and measure success through improved safety, mode choices and livability,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein.  “With complete streets, we are designing for all modes of transportation by looking for ways to improve our health, safety and economy while addressing our changing transportation needs.”

Complete Streets Chicago: Design Guidelines incorporates best practices from around the world and reevaluates how Chicago designs, builds and maintains its streets with a primary emphasis on walking, bicycling and public transit.  The plan codifies CDOT’s efforts to implement the City’s 2006 Complete Streets Policy, which calls for safe and convenient travel by all modes of transportation.

As the City is making an unprecedented level of investment in infrastructure improvements through Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago program, CDOT’s roadway projects will ensure that all modes of transportation become more efficient. 

All CDOT projects and programs, will favor pedestrians as a priority mode of transportation.  Chicago is among the first cities in the nation to decisively place pedestrians first, while also providing safe access for bicyclists, transit users, trucks and automobiles.

In addition, street design will be conducted in a manner that supports context and transportation mode priorities, and is not limited by rigid engineering standards.    This will allow staff to develop innovative solutions that meet the overarching goals of a complete street, including:

  • Supporting active transportation to address obesity and improve health.
  • Enhancing neighborhood economies by drawing people to shop, live, and work in walkable, livable communities.
  • Designing to protect all users, reduce speeding and decrease crashes.
  • Addressing the changing transportation needs of Chicagoans, who are driving less and using other modes.

CDOT is also driven by goals to eliminate pedestrian crash fatalities in ten years; reduce pedestrian and bike crash injuries by 50% in five years; and reaching 50% of commuting trips made by walking, biking, transit, and working from home by 2030 (currently at 38%).

Complete Streets Chicago is a goal-oriented effort tied directly to Chicago Forward, CDOT’s two-year action agenda.  It also has been developed in tandem with its sister publication, Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Guidelines and Policies, which provides guidance on creating streets that are intended to be more efficient, more economical, and mitigate some of the effects of climate change.

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