Give Us Input for GLATWG Complete Streets Campaign

12 May 2009

Complete Streets image from New York (from L.A. StreetsBlog)

Complete Streets image from New York City (from L.A. StreetsBlog)

In late 2008, one of the priorities that the Green LA Transportation Working Group (GLATWG) identified was “complete streets.”  This blog entry is an attempt to draft what we might mean by complete streets, and what the policy implications/goals might be for complete streets for the city of Los Angeles.

What are Complete Streets?

Here’s a definition from the completestreets.org website (from the National Complete Streets Coalition):

“Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bus riders of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.”

There are similar definitions on Wikipedia, and on websites of other non-profits that are campaigning for them – for example, the Iowa Bicycle CoalitionGood magazine recently ran this interactive photo-simulation that does a great job of showing the Complete Streets concept.

Many states, cities and other municipalities have adopted various versions of complete streets policies (see listing of examples here.)  Cities that have adopted policies include Santa Barbara, CA and Colorado Springs, CO.  Some cities, such as Austin, TX have various principles and guidelines for their policies. Recently Complete Streets policy has gone into effect in the states of Hawaii (where it was adopted legislatively as SB718), and Delaware (where it was implemented via executive order from governor.)

The state of California adopted Complete Streets policy in 2008.  California’s policy was adopted legislatively as AB1358, authored by then-Assemblymember Mark Leno of San Francisco.  The state bill (per this press release) requires:

“…cities and counties to include complete streets policies as part of their general plans so that roadways are designed to safely accommodate all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, children, older people, and disabled people, as well as motorists.”

The state mandate applies when a city updates its mobility/transportation element of its general plan.  The city of L.A. actually pretty good language in our General Plan Transportation Element.  Some examples from the existing city of Los Angeles transportation plan adopted in 1999:

“…reduction of vehicle trips, and through focusing growth in proximity to public transit.”
“Provide bicycle access in or near mixed use corridors, neighborhood districts, and community centers…”
“…maintain pedestrian-oriented environments…”

In my opinion, this plan language generally doesn’t get carried out when it comes to actual street design (with a few notable exceptions, for example the city Urban Design Studio’s Downtown Design Guidelines.)

Some of the language from governmental policies is a bit more formal, and allows a bit more wiggle room in its implementation.  For example, in the above-mentioned Delaware executive order, after stating that Delaware’s streets will accommodate all users, it goes on to qualify that:

“Ensure that any exemption to the Complete Streets Policy is specific and documented with supporting data that indicates the basis for the decision”

What would Complete Streets policy/outcome/goals look like for the city of Los Angeles? (ie: what are GLATWG’s goals for our complete streets campaign?)

This is where we need to hear from you.  GLATWG has suggested using complete streets as a way of framing our demands.  All of our campaigns – from bus-only lanes to parking reform to tracking modal share – can be seen as parts of a larger overall campaign.

Should GLATWG push for the city of Los Angeles to adopt an explicit Complete Streets policy?  Should it be done legislatively (via the City Council) or via executive order (via Mayor Villaraigosa)?  What should such a policy include?  How can we make it most effective?

If you have recommendations, ideas, examples, concerns, please add them to the comments on this post.  Please include links to sample policies, images, ideas, etc.  Thanks!

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3 Responses to “Give Us Input for GLATWG Complete Streets Campaign”

  1. […] the May 12 post on embracing Complete Streets is worth a look.  In it Linton proposes that instead of battling for individual projects and […]

  2. […] July, a GLATWG Complete Streets subgroup met to discuss how to move towards Los Angeles-specific implementation of the State of […]

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