Street projects throughout the City of Homewood will now require design considerations for sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks and curb ramps in an effort to make city roadways safer and more accessible for everyone, including walkers, cyclists and transit riders.
The Homewood City Council unanimously approved a Complete Streets ordinance that will guide future transportation projects within the city. This is a major step in continuing and enhancing an ongoing trend of designing Homewood streets for all users. Passing the ordinance solidifies Homewood’s commitment to design the city’s streets for more than just automobiles.
Complete Streets is a national initiative that the Bold Goals Coalition has been involved with on various levels since before the City of Birmingham adopted the policy in 2017, recognizing the need to look at public thoroughfares through a broader lens as they apply to all individuals.
“Streets are public right-of-way, so it is important to design them for all users, and people of all ages and abilities,” said Homewood City Councilor Nick Sims. “Whether someone is a motorist, public transportation rider or walking, biking or rolling through Homewood, this ordinance will create accommodations and connections to more safely go from place to place. In addition to safety and transportation equity, it has several other community benefits, including improving overall quality of life through opportunities for routine physical activity and increasing the number of “green trips,” which in turn improve local air quality.”
Homewood’s Complete Streets policy is similar to that previously passed by the City of Birmingham and continues a trend across the region of promoting safe, accessible transportation options for residents, regardless of their age or ability.
“Safe, accessible transportation is a basic right for everyone using our public sidewalks, streets and transportation,” said John D. Kemp, President and CEO of Lakeshore Foundation. “On behalf of Lakeshore Foundation, I applaud the City of Homewood for making it a priority to improve and ensure accessibility with the adoption of the Complete Streets policy. This is a great step forward in making it possible for individuals with a disability to be fully included in the fabric of our city. I hope this encourages us all to look critically at accessibility issues and continue making improvements, so everyone has the freedom to move unhindered throughout our parks, shopping areas, schools and community.
The policy will also support the continued expansion of the regional Red Rock Trail System, an effort led by the Freshwater Land Trust, to connect communities across Jefferson County.
“Freshwater Land Trust is thrilled to hear that the Homewood City Council has unanimously supported the proposed Complete Streets Ordinance, said Carolyn Buck, Red Rock Trail Director for the Freshwater Land Trust. “A robust alternative transportation network is a critical element of the Red Rock Trail System, which aims to connect every resident in Jefferson County with a greenspace within a mile of their home. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City of Homewood as we work together to make Jefferson County more walkable, bikeable and connected.”
The City of Homewood will partner with community organizations, including the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Freshwater Land Trust, Homewood Chamber of Commerce, Homewood City Schools and Lakeshore Foundation, among others, to serve in an advisory role and develop strategies for ensuring the ordinance is effectively implemented with an equitable approach to serving all users of public streets. Under the policy, the city will establish short-term and long-term goals and strategies for building more walking, biking and transit facilities within Homewood.
In addition to the health and safety benefits Complete Streets offers to a community, research also points to economic benefits for areas that have diverse travel options.
“Complete streets mean business for the local economy,” said Meredith Drennen, Director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce. “Especially when gas prices have risen, providing a walkable community for our residents gives them the opportunity to free up disposable income and support local retailers. According to Smart Growth America, people living in Dallas, TX save an average of $9,026 annually by switching from driving to taking transit; and those in Cleveland, OH save an average of $9,576.”
The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.