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NACTO in 2021: Cities Taking the Lead

Mar 07, 2022

Cover of NACTO's 2021 Annual Report: Two people cross a street while walking a dog

Read NACTO’s 2021 Annual Report

At NACTO, we’re focused on making sure transportation lives up to its promise. That’s why we nurture a network of committed practitioners to share ideas and advance the field’s state of practice, push to make federal transportation policy work for cities, and continually bring national attention to the obstacles between the streets we have now and the streets we need. This is the work we do every day–and the work captured in our 2021 Annual Report.

Across all of our work in 2021, two themes emerged:

Where we are isn’t good enough. North America’s transportation-linked crises became even more immediate in 2021. Life-threatening heat waves rolled through the west coast and unprecedented flooding impacted the east, while the pedestrian safety crisis–fueled by yet-larger vehicles and unsafe street design–lurched ever-higher, disproportionately impacting Black and Indigenous people.

A bus lane blooms in Denver (@plansit)

But cities are collectively working hard to change this. In 2021, North American cities built miles of bus lanes and protected bikeways, accelerating the transition to more sustainable transportation. Cities also set safer speed limits and advanced Vision Zero initiatives, chipping away at a system that continues to prioritize the movement of vehicles over the safety of communities. Cities continually challenged the status quo with new designs, policies, and programs–and we spent this year, like we do every year, supporting their ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Over 2021, NACTO played a pivotal role championing safety, climate, and equity goals in U.S. transportation policy.

Safer streets in Baltimore (Graham Projects)

We continued to advance the state of practice for transportation, building capacity among our members to help them build the movement towards better streets.

  • With 6 new cities and 1 new transit agency joining, we now connect and represented 92 cities and agencies across North America at the end of last year.
  • We launched the Transportation Justice Fellowship within the Better Bike Share Partnership, expanding our leadership development programs.
  • We secured support for, and announced a series of extensions and updates to the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, to be released over 2022 and 2023.
  • We offered a second round of Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery grants, providing direct support to cities and local partners working to support communities disproportionately impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
  • We finished our third year as a leading partner in the American Cities Climate Challenge, advancing initiatives across our network through one-on-one office hours, topic-driven workshops, and technical assistance.
  • We connected the NACTO network in peer network calls, webinars, and directly to each other, strengthening the collaboration between cities across North America as we collectively work to stem the pedestrian safety crisis, address transportation’s outsized role in climate, and work to make our cities more equitable.

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We’re proud that our work makes a difference–from individual professional development for practitioners to national, overdue reforms to systems and policies. But at NACTO, we measure our success based on where we need to go, not how far we’ve come. 

That’s why we strive for impact that matches the scale of the challenges that face us, which are intertwined and complex. NACTO’s 2021 Annual Report reflects the interplay between immediate progress and long lasting change. It celebrates the accomplishments of our daily work, but is framed within the challenging context in which we all operate.

Read more about our landmark efforts pushing transportation forward in this year’s NACTO Annual Report. And after, learn more about the Global Designing Cities Initiative’s work to expand access to safer streets on a global scale. We’re grateful to work alongside our members, advocates, elected officials, and the public towards our wider goals. Thank you to everyone who’s partnered with us and supported our vision: cities that are places of opportunity for everyone.

Read NACTO’s 2021 Annual Report (pdf) >>