Increased Safety, Improved Health, and Reduced Traffic Congestion

Jeffersontown, KY – With heavy reliance on driving in Kentucky, roads have generally been designed with only cars and trucks in mind, making it difficult and often dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians to navigate safely. Children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities are particularly vulnerable on Kentucky roads as they commonly walk, bicycle, or utilize public transportation. A new issue brief by Kentucky Youth Advocates, Complete Streets: Venues for Safety and Wellness in Kentucky, indicates the need for complete streets in Kentucky and highlights the benefits this approach can bring to communities.

“Complete streets are increasing safety and encouraging active living in communities in Kentucky and across the United States, both in urban cities and small rural towns,” said Andrea Plummer, Kentucky Safe Routes to School Network Organizer. “Complete streets are designed to accommodate everyone using the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities.”

In 2009, 300 children were injured or killed while walking on Kentucky roads. Also, Kentucky has high rates of obesity and inactivity. Therefore, it is crucial that roads are designed to improve safety for all users of the road and encourage active living in communities.

According to the 2008 Kentucky Highway User Survey, there is a strong opinion that the Commonwealth needs improved roadways that benefit all. Many respondents indicated the need for additional safe pedestrian and bicycle elements in Kentucky.

Improved safety for all users and increased physical activity opportunities are just two of the many benefits of complete streets. Many communities also experience reduced traffic congestion and improved air quality.

Complete streets may involve sidewalks, bike lanes, wide paved shoulders, bus lanes, crosswalks, and/or pedestrian signals. However, streets across Kentucky have various types of users, depending on the geographic area where they are located, so all complete streets will look different. In rural areas, for example, a wide paved shoulder may constitute a complete street. On the other hand, complete streets in urban areas may require more elements such as bike lanes and sidewalks.

“It is important to remember that people walk and bike in all parts of the state, whether on a busy city street or a rural county road,” said Plummer. “We need community leaders, elected officials, government agencies and legislators to all be discussing the health and safety of their community, and how both can improve by incorporating complete streets.”

Download a pdf of this news release Kentucky Communities Experience Many Benefits from Complete Streets.