Incomplete Streets

Processes, practices, and possibilities

Edited by Stephen Zavestoski, Julian Agyeman

© 2015 – Routledge

326 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415725873
pub: 2014-08-19
US Dollars$52.95
Hardback: 9780415725866
pub: 2014-08-27
US Dollars$160.00

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About the Book

The ‘Complete Streets' concept and movement in urban planning and policy has been hailed by many as a revolution that aims to challenge the auto-normative paradigm by reversing the broader effects of an urban form shaped by the logic of keeping automobiles moving. By enabling safe access for all users, Complete Streets promise to make cities more walkable and livable and at the same time more sustainable.

This book problematizes the Complete Streets concept by suggesting that streets should not be thought of as merely physical spaces, but as symbolic and social spaces. When important social and symbolic narratives are missing from the discourse and practice of Complete Streets, what actually results are incomplete streets. The volume questions whether the ways in which complete streets narratives, policies, plans and efforts are envisioned and implemented might be systematically reproducing many of the urban spatial and social inequalities and injustices that have characterized cities for the last century or more. From critiques of a "mobility bias" rooted in the neoliberal foundations of the Complete Streets concept, to concerns about resulting environmental gentrification, the chapters in Incomplete Streets variously call for planning processes that give voice to the historically marginalized and, more broadly, that approach streets as dynamic, fluid and public social places.

This interdisciplinary book is aimed at students, researchers and professionals in the fields of urban geography, environmental studies, urban planning and policy, transportation planning, and urban sociology.


"The "Complete Streets" approach seems to be a feasible way to improve access, health, and economic activity. But are we really challenging inequality and inequity by designing and building "Complete Streets"? This edited volume is thought provoking, and a good way to start the conversation about this urgent question."Lois M. Takahashi, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

"Incomplete Streets asks important questions about how equitable Complete Streets really are. While seemingly benign, authors in this well-edited collection, argue that this vision of street design ignores key street users from sidewalk venders to low-wage auto commuters. This is a timely critique that deserves attention."–Ann Forsyth, Harvard University, USA

"Over the last 30 years our urban spaces have become increasingly neo-liberalised commodities and privatised public places. This timely collection reveals the contested space tensions and the successes that can be achieved in local streets. The Complete Streets movement will challenge attitudes of highways and engineering professionals, and those of urban planners too. We should refocus our attention to ‘people and places’ rather than ‘land users’ to become truly equitable and sustainable; afterall it is people that make places." –Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Newcastle University, UK

"This important book takes a hard look at the emerging movement for livability and asks the essential question: For whom? The authors' unflinching, good humoured perspectives are essential reading for anyone who cares about the shape of our cities." –Elly Blue, Bikenomics Industrial Complex.

"This volume offers an important critique of how potentially progressive ideas such as Complete Streets can be misunderstood or co-opted to maintain and exacerbate an unequal urban status quo." – Rike Sitas, African Centre for Cities

Table of Contents

1. Complete Streets. What’s Missing? Stephen Zavestoski and Julian Agyeman 2. Of Love Affairs and Other Stories Peter Norton 3. Moving Beyond Fordism: "Complete Streets" and the Changing Political Economy of Urban Transportation Aaron Golub 4. Urban Spatial Mobility in the Age of Sustainability Themis Chronopoulos 5. The Unbearable Weight of Irresponsibility and the Lightness of Tumbleweeds: Cumulative Irresponsibility in Neoliberal Streetscapes Do J. Lee 6. The Street as Ecology Vikas Mehta 7. Curbing Cruising: Lowriding and the Domestication of Denver’s Northside Sig Langegger 8. Recruiting People Like You: Socioeconomic Sustainability in Minneapolis’s Bicycle Infrastructure Melody Hoffmann 9. "One day, the white people are going to want these houses again": Understanding Gentrification through the North Oakland Farmers Market Josh Cadji and Alison Hope Alkon 10. Reversing Complete Streets Disparities: Portland’s Community Watershed Stewardship Program Erin Goodling and Cameron Herrington 11. Compl(eat)ing the Streets: Legalizing Sidewalk Food Vending in Los Angeles Mark Vallianatos 12. Fixing the City in the Context of Neoliberalism: Institutionalized DIY Lusi Morhayim 13. The Most Complete Street in the World: A Dream Deferred and Co-Opted Anna Livia Brand 14. The Politics of Sustainability: Contested Urban Bikeway Development in Portland, Oregon Thaddeus R. Miller and Amy Lubitow 15. Incomplete Streets, Complete Regions: In Search of an Equitable Scale Karen Chapple 16. Towards an Understanding of Complete Streets: Equity, Justice and Sustainability Stephen Zavestoski and Julian Agyeman

About the Editors

Stephen Zavestoski is Sustainability Director at the College of Arts and Sciences and Co-Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, USA.

Julian Agyeman is a Professor in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University, USA. He is Founding Editor of Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, published by Taylor and Francis.

About the Series

Routledge Equity, Justice and the Sustainable City series

This series positions equity and justice as central elements of the transition toward sustainable cities. The series introduces critical perspectives and new approaches to the practice and theory of urban planning and policy that ask how the world's cities can become ‘greener’ while becoming more fair, equitable and just.

Routledge Equity Justice and the Sustainable City series addresses sustainable city trends in the global North and South and investigates them for their potential to ensure a transition to urban sustainability that is equitable and just for all. These trends include municipal climate action plans; resource scarcity as tipping points into a vortex of urban dysfunction; inclusive urbanization; "complete streets" as a tool for realizing more "livable cities"; the use of information and analytics toward the creation of "smart cities".

The series welcomes submissions for high-level cutting edge research books that push thinking about sustainability, cities, justice and equity in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones. The series offers theoretical, methodological, and empirical advances that can be used by professionals and as supplementary reading in courses in urban geography, urban sociology, urban policy, environment and sustainability, development studies, planning, and a wide range of academic disciplines.

To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan (

Julian Agyeman, Tufts University Boston-Medford, USA

Zarina Patel, University of Cape Town, South Africa

AbdouMaliq Simone, Goldsmith’s College, UK

Stephen Zavestoski, University of San Francisco, USA

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy