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Local Actions

Village of Rhinebeck, Rhinebeck, New York

Mayors, Supervisors, local Board members and other municipal staff have a lot to manage. While local politics can be tough, we can all agree on basic principles. We all want safe, thriving communities that welcome and provide space for all people. Ask yourself the questions below and think about your community.  Maybe you can’t address all these issues; that’s okay. Pick a few that speak to your community’s needs and dive into the recommendations and resources. And let us know what else you need — we’re happy to help.

Questions to Consider

Best Practices

Develop plans and policies to support safe access for people walking:

  • Implement a local Complete Streets policy and practices. This formalizes your community’s intent to consider access for people of all ages and abilities, using all forms of transportation, in your decisions.
  • Develop and implement a local Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan
  • Adopt walkable community design guidelines. Consider trees, benches, lighting, and other elements that make streets more comfortable and inviting for walking.
  • Work with DCTC on a local pedestrian plan to identify barriers to walking and prioritize improvements. These plans give you specific, attainable goals and can help you attain funding for improvements.
  • Create a map showing where sidewalks are desired (possibly as part of an Official Map) and adopt it as an addendum to your comprehensive plan. NYSDOT and other agencies often refer to your comprehensive plan when deciding whether to include sidewalks in a project. Remember: building a better sidewalk network doesn’t happen all at once. Sidewalk fragments are okay if they are part of a long-term plan!

Incorporate access management and connected street designs:

  • Require connected street networks for new developments. A traditional street grid provides more route choices for people walking.
  • Minimize driveways on major streets and consolidate existing commercial driveways where possible.
  • Provide on-street parking in centers to calm traffic, shrink large parking lots, and promote a ‘park once and walk’ environment.
  • Update your zoning to require walking connections within sites and to adjacent sites for all site plan applications. This is a simple, but often overlooked way to improve walkability and reduce congestion by encouraging people to park once and walk between their destinations.

Best Practices

Develop plans and policies that support safe access for people bicycling:

  • Implement a local Complete Streets policy and practices. This formalizes your community’s intent to consider access for people of all ages and abilities, using all forms of transportation, in your decisions.
  • Identify bicycle networks that allow riders to access a variety of destinations, and look for infrastructure improvements you can make along these streets.
  • Look for opportunities to develop rail trails and other shared-use paths. Think big picture and long-term – these projects take time!
  • When making bicycle improvements, make sure you design for all ages and abilities.

Incorporate access management & connected street designs:

  • Require connected street networks for all new developments. A traditional street grid creates more and safer route choices for people bicycling.
  • Minimize driveways on major streets and consolidate existing commercial driveways where possible.
  • Provide bicycling connections within sites and to adjacent sites.
  • Where possible, make connections to nearby rail trails or other shared-use paths.

Provide bicycle parking:

  • Learn where there is bicycle parking in your community, and where it might be missing. Our Bicycle Parking app (see sidebar) is a good place to start.
  • If there’s a train station in your community, work with Metro-North to add long-term bicycle storage options at the station.
  • Update your zoning to require bicycle parking (both short-term and long-term) where appropriate for site plan applications. It’s a low-cost improvement that makes bicycling an easier option.

Best Practices

  • Look at designated stops in your community and check for accessibility (sidewalks, ramps, etc.).
  • Construct and improve sidewalks along bus routes.
  • Work with County Public Transit to move or add stops to better serve riders, and add shelters, bicycle racks, and other amenities at major stops.
  • Provide connections to bus routes when designing bicycle networks (see question 2).

Best Practices

Revise your subdivision codes to promote safe access for walking and bicycling:

  • Provide flexible design standards based on land use context, allowing narrower street widths, travel lanes, and driveways/curb radii in urban or neighborhood areas.
  • Require sidewalk networks.
  • Require walking and bicycling connections to adjacent areas/parcels.

Revise your street design standards to promote safe access for walking and bicycling:

  • Provide flexible street standards based on land use context, allowing narrower street widths, travel lanes, and driveways/curb radii in urban or neighborhood areas.
  • Require that sidewalks and bicycle facilities be considered in any street or bridge redesign project, or other major reconstructions. A complete streets checklist can help with this.

Best Practices

Improve maintenance practices:

  • Create long-term Capital Improvement Plans that include ongoing sidewalk maintenance costs. Sidewalks are shared public infrastructure, just like streets, and should be budgeted for.
  • Consider transferring responsibility for sidewalk plowing and maintenance to your municipality. This ensures more consistent plowing and repairs, helps older adults and others for whom shoveling is difficult, and can ease some of the resistance to building new sidewalks. Some of our municipalities are already doing this.
  • If you have a walkable downtown or town/village center, consider a sidewalk improvement district to finance improvements.

Best Practices

Best Practices

Update your Comprehensive Plan and other policies to prioritize investments in existing centers and neighborhoods.

  • Use our Centers & Greenspaces strategy to focus development in centers and protect open space.
  • Upgrade existing infrastructure before building new.

Upgrade water & sewer systems to support development in centers.

  • Work with the County Water & Wastewater Authority or other system operators to better manage existing systems and explore new connections.
  • Develop a long-term capital plan that outlines needed upgrades and their costs.
  • Update fees to support ongoing maintenance and planned capital investments.

Address congestion hot spots.

  • Work with DCTC and other partners to develop solutions to address congestion and manage traffic and parking, particularly in centers.
  • Plan for local deliveries and manage curb space.

Best Practices

Invest in your existing town/village centers.

Pursue infill development, especially of multi-unit housing types, to capitalize on existing transportation infrastructure and services and support walking, bicycling, and transit.

Revise zoning to support walkability, bikeability, & transit in centers:

Best Practices

  • Improve your walking and bicycling networks (sidewalks, rail trail connections, on-street bicycle infrastructure) to serve basic needs destinations.
  • Add bicycle racks at basic needs destinations.
  • Consider adding transit amenities (shelters, benches, lighting) where basic needs locations are served by bus transit.

Best Practices

  • Encourage local board members to take advantage of the Dutchess County Planning Federation and other resources to learn about land use and transportation issues.
  • Promote coordination within municipal departments, with other municipalities, and with other agencies via intermunicipal agreements, the Mayors and Supervisors Association, the County’s Municipal Innovation Grant (MIG) Program and DCTC forums.
  • Review and update your Comprehensive Plan and zoning code regularly to make sure they reflect clear municipal priorities.

Best Practices

  • Update your land use regulations to incorporate climate change considerations. Many climate-smart land use practices mirror recommendations you’ve probably been hearing for years: prioritize development in existing centers, preserve green space, limit impervious surfaces, etc. Climate change is just another big reason to prioritize these actions.
  • Consider developing a climate action plan for your community. As part of the plan, work with DCTC and other partners to assess your transportation infrastructure.
  • Consider climate change in bridge and culvert replacement projects.
  • Monitor roadsides for proper ditching, tree-trimming, and erosion control.
  • Prohibit dead-end roads in flood-prone areas and look for opportunities to provide connections for existing roads with single access points.

Best Practices

  • Consider EV infrastructure (especially charging stations) when looking at site plans and making planning decisions. Consider requiring charging station infrastructure for multifamily or large commercial projects.
  • Lay electrical conduit to allow for future charging station installation during public parking lot resurfacing projects.
  • Incorporate EVs in your municipal fleets.
  • Learn more: find details in our municipal guide to getting EV ready.

Best Practices

Improve your maintenance practices:

Right size your transportation infrastructure (roads, bridges, sidewalks, etc.):

  • Maintain existing infrastructure before building new.
  • Maximize the efficiency of existing infrastructure before adding capacity.
  • Reduce unneeded capacity or remove unnecessary infrastructure.

Best Practices

  • Implement local Complete Streets policies and practices. This formalizes your community’s intent to consider access for people of all ages and abilities, using all forms of transportation, in your decisions.
  • Develop and implement a local ADA transition plan.
  • Coordinate with human service agencies to provide transportation options for vulnerable populations and communities.
  • Prioritize projects that improve access for residents in identified focus areas or places with high shares of focus populations, and also for residents in places with high housing cost burdens.
  • Encourage a range of housing types in locations with walking, bicycling, and/or transit access to jobs and other basic needs.