Berkley adopts complete streets ordinance

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 10, 2018

BERKLEY — With an eye toward improving the streets of Berkley, the City Council recently approved a “complete streets” ordinance.

A complete streets ordinance, passed by the council at a meeting last month, was described by Berkley’s community development director, Tim McLean, as an ordinance to accommodate motorists, nonmotorized transportation, transit riders and pedestrians.

“If you consider the way streets have been traditionally planned, you’ve got your motorists and pedestrians. You know, there hasn’t really been a lot of accommodation for the nonmotorized forms of transportation and mass transit. Complete streets allows all of this to kind of safely coexist,” McLean said.

A complete streets ordinance has been in the making since 2010, when a resolution was passed by the City Council for support of a law in Berkley. 

The resolution was pushed by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baker eight years ago. A big advocate of complete streets, Baker said it’s part of the services and infrastructure that any municipality should provide to its residents and businesses. 

“By ensuring that our roads are safe and easy to cross and easy to go down, it just ensures that our friends and family, our neighbors and visitors, are safe and able to enjoy the city to its finest,” he said.

Baker said the reason why it took this long to get a complete streets ordinance on the books is that the city has shifted priorities over the years in terms of where it’s focusing its time and efforts.

“With a DDA director on board, a new community development director and a new city manager in place, the three of them had the shared desire and knowledge to make this happen,” he said.

McLean, who was hired in December as the city’s new community development director, said now that it’s a legal requirement that the city has to abide by complete streets principles, the city can do things such as require that bicycle lanes be placed in the streets. 

“There’s not really a one-size-fits-all approach to complete streets, so I’m going to have to do a pretty fair amount of homework to see how others have been doing it, and we want to craft a plan that’s going to work for our residents,” he said.

With the ordinance now in effect, Baker said his primary focus at the moment is Coolidge Highway and to use the principles of complete streets to ensure that residents and businesses near Coolidge can have a safe and comfortable experience in the downtown area.

“Complete streets principles will help us ensure that we look at the road configuration in its entirety through the proper lens,” he said. “For instance, we may look at shifting the positioning of the lanes. We might adjust on-street parking to be safer for shoppers. We might look at additional ways that cyclists can be more safe.”