‘Complete Streets:’ A Road That St. George City’s Dannielle Larkin Would Love To Travel
Would you walk or bike to work if it was feasible?
Seriously, if you were within a couple of miles of work, shopping and entertainment, would you leave your car at home and provide your own horsepower to get there?
Would you take public transit to church or the post office if it were available? How about a scooter to get to the doctor's office? Or maybe a skateboard to go grab a smoothie?
St. George City councilman Dannielle Larkin is hoping that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes.
Larkin, who appeared on The Andy Griffin Show Thursday, recently received an award for her work in trying to help St. George become a 15-minute walking city, with "Complete Streets" that have room for cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, scooter and pedestrians.
"Sadly, we're currently following the same path that Los Angeles and other big cities have followed," Larkin said. "Everyone always says they don't want us to turn into another California, but that's exactly what will happen if we don't change the way we're doing things. Smog, congestion and overcrowding. We are an automobile-centric society and we need to change that."
Larkin says she doesn't fault people who live far from work and drive many miles to get to things like jobs, shopping and entertainment. But she also says there is a better way.
"If we can get there by walking or riding a bike, or even public transit, that's a better way," she said. "But we understand that people aren't going to do those things unless it is easier, more appealing."
According to the website smartgrowthamerica.org, "Complete Streets is an approach to planning, designing and building streets that enables safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities."
In contrast, America has plenty of what the website calls incomplete streets, " the result of a process that fails to consider the needs of all people and outdated measures of what makes a street successful. The end product is a street that spans a spectrum from uncomfortable to downright deadly for those not using a car."
The 10 principles below, developed several decades ago but unpacked in this guide from US EPA, are considered the foundation of a smart growth approach—click on each principle to expand and learn more.
Larkin recently received an award from smartgrowthamerica as a Complete Streets Changemaker for promoting "active transportation and complete streets since being elected to the St. George City Council, passing key legislation in her first term to codify a complete street policy into our city codes and transportation plan."
Larkin cited a study that says it costs the public more than nine times as much to fund driving vs. walking when factoring in public safety, road and street maintenance, pollution and other public hazards.
"If we can walk or bike, we should walk or bike," she said. "We want the people of St. George to have that kind of freedom. We don't want to be like Los Angeles."
St. George right now has more than 60 miles of walking paths and several of the city's streets are close to becoming "complete streets."