Norwalk ramps up plans for ordinance mandating ‘Complete Streets’ designed for all

An example of Complete Streets (Source: City of Norwalk)

Correction: Corrects to 14 traffic fatalities instead of 414. from 2015-2019.

Ramping up efforts to make Norwalk’s streets safer and more accessible to all, city transportation officials are working with Common Council members to draft and ultimately pass a “Complete Streets” ordinance mandating “streets designed for everyone.”

“What this ordinance will do is it will basically set Complete Streets as a rule and that will no longer be an exception,” Garrett Bolella, the city’s assistant director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking, said at the May 21 Ordinance Committee meeting. “It also will ultimately mean that Complete Streets is no longer just a set of projects but that all projects in the city that are done are Complete Streets projects.”

Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that aims to take all users into account in roadway and project design. Bolella said that in its simplest terms Complete Streets “is really streets for everyone” and “streets designed for everyone.” 

Accident Data Shows the Need

Bolella emphasized that Norwalk’s traffic accident data shows Complete Streets could really help make roads safer. 

“What we saw from 2015 to 2019, there were 14 fatalities on the city’s streets and over 26,000 crashes, 10% of those which involve serious injuries,” he said. “So it is a large problem. But this will help us to start to address that problem.” 

The ordinance would require that all streets of the future—whether designed by the city or by a private developer as part of a project–follow the design guidelines. Those could include requirements like sidewalk and lane width, and bicycle lanes wherever feasible. 

“I think this is really going to set the stage for how we design and build our city going forward,” Jim Travers, the director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking.

The ordinance will allow the city to “codify Complete Streets through the city so we can continue to deliver projects,” Bolella said.

“And all departments, all agencies, everyone doing work within the city can add to the vision of Complete Streets and help us combat what has been a really disturbing trend,” he said, referring to the growing number of crashes and fatalities on the roadways. 

Not Yet “Norwalk Centric’

Lisa Shanahan, the chair of the Ordinance Committee, said the city’s consultant FHI Studio, came up with a first draft, which Shanahan said was “not exactly Norwalk centric.” Council member Josh Goldstein has been working through revising the 26-page draft to make it more specific to the city. 

Shanahan outlined a rough time frame: The committee will review the draft ordinance in June and July, with the goal of hosting a public hearing in September and potentially sending it to the council for a vote in October. 

“A robust Complete Streets policy is going to make us more competitive at the state level and also make it safer for our residents,” Goldstein said. “And when Garrett [Bolella] talks about multimodal transport, the idea is we want people to be able to get around Norwalk in more than one way and not be dependent on just cars.”


3 responses to “Norwalk ramps up plans for ordinance mandating ‘Complete Streets’ designed for all”

  1. Bryan Meek

    Can we pave Flax Hill Rd first already? Or anyone of the 100 other streets torn up with shoddy temporary patch? Or are we only talking about dead end cul de sacs with a few houses on them like the PR stunt on Honeysuckle?

  2. John O’Neill

    Reading some of the statistics above and it I question them:
    414 traffic fatalities in Norwalk over 5 year period? That means 1-2 people per week died on our streets? Fact check would be in order
    26,000 accidents — That’s 100 per week. (those that are reported to police) Of which an average of 10 per week are super serious? Seems like a lot.
    I would suggest reviewing these numbers and if found to be true reducing speed limit to 5 MPH.
    If 2 people per week have been dying on Norwalk streets solely due to car accidents how come we haven’t read about those fatalities..?

  3. Bryan Meek

    @JO. Why should facts matter? Create problems that look for solutions (create bike lanes) while ignoring the real issues (lack of road maintenance). Cherry pick some stats and exaggerate a few where needed. Then get a grant (a.k.a tax money) to do a study. Then create headcount to implement that study. Then create a department and hire assistants. Then hire contractors to do the work to come up with plans. Then fix very low hanging fruit while ignoring the real problems. Then have a ribbon cutting ceremony. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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