This spring, Nashua officially endorsed the Plan4Health Nashua program which focuses on developing Complete Street guidelines that support equitable access to safe, healthy multi-modal transportation.

Downtown Nashua: Nashua has already made improvements to street designs to make them safer and more attractive for walkers and bicyclists.So what are Complete Streets and how can they support the physical and economic health of a community?
Complete Streets support active living by providing more safe walking and bicycling paths, better fit the local neighborhood by considering where people want to go and how they want to get around, and support economic growth by making local businesses more accessible.

What do Complete Streets policies do?
By adopting Complete Street practices, a community establishes a process for selecting, funding, planning, designing, and building transportation projects that allow safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, or ethnicity, and no matter how they travel. These policies provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to contribute to, and benefit from, a livable community. More than 700 U.S. towns, cities, counties, regions, and states have made official commitments to Complete Streets policies.

Benefits of Complete Streets include:

  • Complete Streets look different for every neighborhood depending on what the community needs and wants. Here is an example from the New York City  Department of Transportation showing how streets can be designed for everyone to get around safely.Encourage healthy and active lifestyles among residents of all ages
  • Boost the economy by attracting more area businesses, residents, and real estate development
  • Provide children with opportunities to walk and bike to school and other nearby destinations in a safe and supportive environment
  • Encourage people, particularly those with disabilities and older adults, to get out and stay connected to the community
  • Promote safety – sidewalks, raised medians, better bus stop placement, traffic-calming measures, and treatments for travelers with disabilities may reduce pedestrian risk by as much as 28%
  • Ensure that all people, including those without a car or other transportation options, have equitable access to education, employment, religious and cultural institutions, physical activity, and friends and family
  • Preserve resources for the next generation – Complete Streets help save money when switching from driving to biking/walking and can reduce carbon emissions
  • Avoid expensive retrofits that might be necessary if Complete Streets guidelines were not considered in the planning stages

Whether it’s planting trees or adding crosswalks, making travel lanes narrower or creating space for people on bikes, communities are changing how they approach the design and function of their streets to support good health and economic vitality.

As a partner of Plan4Health Nashua, HEAL NH is working to advance one of the primary Active Living objectives outlined in the Healthy People Healthy Places Plan that “all New Hampshire communities are built to support walking, biking, and other active transportation options.” More information about Plan4Health Nashua can be found online here. Smart Growth America is a great resource for Complete Streets information.

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