By Eli Cooper

The Ann Arbor City Council embraced “Complete Streets” at its March 7 meeting. This action enables the city to be recognized as a leader in providing public facilities in a manner that meets the needs of all users. I used a broad term – public facilities – not just streets or roads. That would have been a simpler, easier to understand term you might have expected to read. But no, this is a bit more complicated. All users? Aren’t streets provided for cars to drive on?

What does this action mean to me, you might wonder? What are complete streets anyway? Is a street that allows one to drive from one end of town to another a complete street? If only some streets are complete, what are incomplete streets? Why should I care?

Streets are not exclusively for cars, never have been. Yes, I know, we are in Michigan, the car capital of the nation and world. Home of the Big Three! Surely, a Complete Street allows one to drive on it. But no, that is not the story here. Let’s step back and review a bit of transportation history. I will keep the history part short, promise. I’ll bet you know streets and roads existed prior to automobiles. In fact, walkers, carriages, horses, mules, etc., bicyclists and others shared our streets long before the introduction and widespread use of the automobile.

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