March 6, 2018 — The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to amend the city’s transportation plan to include a “Complete Streets” policy, which would make streets more accessible to foot and bicycle traffic in addition to cars and public transit.
District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who heads up the council’s Transportation and Communication Committee, described the ordinance’s passage as “a historic moment for the city of Birmingham.”
“I don’t think most folks realize it, but I truly believe that at some point in our future, maybe 15 or 20 years down the road, people will look back at this day and say, ‘We turned a corner here,’” he said.
The Complete Streets ordinance, which had been recommended in the city’s comprehensive plan and in Mayor Randall Woodfin’s 100-day plan, is intended to make city streets and sidewalks multimodal. This includes implementing lanes for bicycles and buses, making sidewalks accessible to the disabled, and installing lighting and signage to encourage pedestrian use.
According to the text of the ordinance, it will become a “routine part of everyday operations,” with two newly created governing bodies overseeing its implementation. The first of those is a 23-member advisory committee that will provide feedback on the implementation of the complete streets plan and annual progress reports to the mayor and council. That committee will be appointed by the mayor, council and various city organizations, a full breakdown of which can be found here.
A last-minute addition to the ordinance gives the mayor power to appoint a member of Birmingham’s business community to the committee and the council the power to appoint someone working in the city’s real estate industry.
The advisory committee also will advise the second governing body, the technical oversight committee, which will consist of city employees and will focus on developing specific policies rules, and planning documents for the Complete Streets program. The committee also will be responsible for providing a plan to ensure the program’s implementation in low- and moderate-income communities.
After hearing from various members of the community — including representatives from REV Birmingham, United Way, Redemptive Cycles, and more — during a public hearing about the ordinance, Council President Valerie Abbott remarked on the unanimous support the ordinance had received. After the council voted unanimously in approval, the council chambers erupted into applause.
“Let me know when I can sign,” Woodfin said when the applause subsided. “I’m ready.”