Complete Streets for Philadelphia


photo by Karen Christine Hibbard

The Complete Streets bill passed December 6th by Philadelphia’s City Council requires streets that accommodate all forms of transportation: transit, cars, bikes, and pedestrian. It squares municipal regulations with the state’s rules of the road, and is a huge victory for cyclists in the city.

As people have become more conscious about cutting their contribution to carbon emissions, they have ditched their cars and migrated to alternative transit options. Complete Streets recognizes that cars are not the only way people move around in cities. After all, walkability is one of the charms of city life. Now bikes and pedestrians don’t have to run a gauntlet trying to avoid being hit by cars and trucks on Philadelphia roadways.

New regulations include:

  • no parking in bike lanes
  • no bike riding on sidewalks
  • it’s a traffic-code offense to open your car door into a trafficked byway.
  • all modes of transport must be taken into consideration for new projects.

The City of Philadelphia has 2,600 miles of roadway, much of it a real challenge for complete street design. The Complete Streets bill is a huge step towards safety and sustainability for the city. The law is the culmination of a process begun by Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2009 executive order directing the city to implement a complete streets policy. The Complete Streets handbook is available online at






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