Complete Streets

We see it again and again: Where we live, learn, work and play really matters to our health.

The streets of our cities and towns are central to this idea.

  • Residents are 65 percent more likely to walk in a neighborhood with sidewalks.1
  • Cities with more bike lanes per square mile have higher levels of bicycle commuting.2
  • Walking and biking are increasingly ranked as important to people as they consider the places where they want to live.3

Streets with the healthiest design, “Complete Streets,” make moving around easier for everyone. We support Complete Streets because they allow more people the access to be active in their daily lives — and more physical activity is shown to lead to better health.

Complete Streets is a term for transportation policies that provide safe access for all road users — pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users and motorists — of all ages and abilities. The policies require that transportation agencies routinely design streets safe accessibility and also engage the public to identify the most desired active transportation solutions. Elements can include wide sidewalks, well-marked or raised crosswalks, protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety islands. These features provide access to safe transportation for the 40 percent of Minnesotans who do not drive.4

The governor signed the Minnesota Complete Streets law in 2010 with strong bipartisan support.

The Center for Prevention played a key role in the passage of the state Complete Streets law. Along with Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, Fresh Energy and Transit for Livable Communities, we co-founded the Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition (MCSC). MCSC was strategic in working with a number of diverse stakeholders, including:

  • Childhood safety advocates
  • Citizens and residents
  • City planners and engineers
  • Cycling groups
  • Disability advocates
  • Elected officials
  • Environmental advocates
  • Local transportation agencies
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)
  • Seniors

Because of this collaboration, Complete Streets are becoming part of the fabric of Minnesota towns and cities.

Related links

1 Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R.J. (2002). “The relative influence of individual, social, and physical environment determinants of physical activity.” Social Science & Medicine, 54 1793-1812.
2 Dill, Jennifer and Theresa Carr. (2003). “Bicycle Commuting and Facilities in Major US Cities: If You Build Them, Commuters Will Use Them.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1828, TRB, 2003, pp 116-123.
3 Handy SL, Sallis JS, et al. Is support for traditionally designed communities growing? Evidence from two national surveys. Journal of the American Planning Association 2008; 74(2): 209-221.
4 Data from the Federal Highway Administration

  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.