The Iowan
looking for something?

Potluck: Complete Streets

Cascade, Iowa

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk

Streets Are for Everyone

The United States is a car culture. From 1965–1980 many communities stopped building sidewalks altogether. Cascade, a city of 2,159 straddling Dubuque and Jones Counties, took a different approach in 2006, becoming the first Iowa community to adopt a Complete Streets policy.

The idea behind Complete Streets is to plan, design, and maintain streets so they’re safe for users of all ages and abilities, whether pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transportation users.

“It’s a livability issue,” says Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. “With a larger senior population and an emphasis on healthful living, people want to be able to get out and around.”

Since Cascade broke the ice, many other Iowa communities, including Dubuque, the Quad Cities, Iowa City, the Cedar Rapids area, Johnson County, and Des Moines, have adopted Complete Street policies.

There’s no standard approach to achieving user-friendly streets, and Complete Streets is more philosophy than blueprint. “Each community writes its own policy,” explains Wyatt,“coming up with a standard way for that community to accommodate the most users.”

Learn more at,, and — C.B.

Photo courtesy of


All content © 2017 The Iowan/Pioneer Communications, Inc., and may not be used, reproduced, or altered in any way without prior written permission.