City planners have been talking about Complete Streets for awhile now. I half expected it to go the way of the Transit First Policy wave that swept California and the U.S. a decade ago; that is to say, a lot of talk, many well-intentioned policies, but mostly business as usual for transportation priorities. I am pleased to say that I think this one is really taking hold.
San Francisco has been at the forefront of this trend with the preparation of the Better Streets Plan, which despite lack of a capital improvement program or implementation actions, has been used very effectively by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to exact improvements from developers and assure that city-funded/built roadway projects comply with best practices for accommodating transit, bicycles and pedestrians.
But you would expect such things from San Francisco. How is the auto-dominated Caltrans doing? Caltrans first adopted something akin to a Complete Streets Policy in 2000 – Deputy Directive 64 – and updated that directive in 2008 [pdf]. Highlights are:
• “The Department views all transportation improvements as opportunities to improve safety, access, and mobility for all travelers in California and recognizes bicycle, pedestrian, and transit modes as integral elements of the transportation system.
• The Department develops integrated multimodal projects in balance with community goals, plans, and value”
Caltrans has also developed the Smart Mobility Framework, California Blueprint for Bicycling and Walking [pdf] and Complete Intersections [pdf]. More recently, Caltrans has updated its Highway Design Manual1 to, among other things: