What is a Complete Street?

  • Defined by Ordinance 122386
  • Includes improvements that balance the needs of all users
  • Considers the unique qualities of each street with a flexible approach to implementation

Seattle's Complete Streets policy originated in 2006 as part of the Bridging the Gap transportation ballot measure (resolution 30915) and was developed in cooperation with a coalition of local advocacy groups.  In 2007, SDOT worked with the Mayor and City Council to codify the Complete Streets policy in ordinance number 122386, which states that "SDOT will plan for, design and construct all new City transportation improvement projects to provide appropriate accommodation for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities, while promoting safe operation for all users."  The policy is specific that street improvements on Major Truck Streets should also be consistent with freight mobility, while supporting other modes.  According to the ordinance, Complete Streets "may be achieved through single projects or incrementally through a series of smaller improvements or maintenance activities over time." Since 2007, Seattle has evaluated more than 50 Complete Streets projects. 

A Complete Street has a range of possible attributes and Seattle does not use a rigid template for projects.  Complete Streets will often provide improved crossings, good lighting and sidewalks for pedestrians; bicycle lanes, sharrows or wide outside lanes for bicyclists; adequate lane width for freight and transit operation; convenient transit stops for transit riders; and street trees, landscaping and other features such as improved lighting that make streets good for community life.  Seattle recognizes that implementing Complete Streets requires that we make careful design decisions that are based on data, informed by adjacent land use and community experience, and anticipate future needs.

15 Ave S before and after photo


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.