Monterey Bay region considers Complete Streets guide

The Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) composed of the counties and cities in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties has published a draft for their proposed Complete Streets Guide.


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The impetus for developing the Complete Streets Guidebook were revisions to the California Government Codes (AB 1358) and the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates (SB 375). The intent of the document is to provide uniform guidance for best practices to integrate pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicle facilities.

Monterey Bay region complete streets guide discourages beg buttons

Complete Streets guide discourages beg buttons.

AB 1358 — the California Complete Streets Act of 2008 — requires any major updates to a jurisdition’s general plan to include modification to the
circulation element to “plan for  a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of
all users of streets,roads and highways.” This new resource provides guidance to governments in the region as they update their general plans by outlining COmplete Streets principals.

Traditionally, roads and intersections have been designed only for capacity and Level of Service (LOS), in which road and intersection performance is rated from “A” (free flowing traffic as envisioned by Robert Moses and often shown in car advertisements) to “F” (highly congested). These capacity and LOS “improvements” for the sole benefit of automobile users often come at the expense of other users. Many city codes even mandate minimum service levels, with legislative action required for any road project that might decrease a road’s throughput for single occupant vehicles.

Complete Streets: Boulevard sample cross section

Sample cross section for a Boulevard, an arterial for moderate speed traffic.

Complete streets are roadways designed to safely and comfortably accommodate all users motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, transit and school bus riders, delivery and service personnel,freight haulers, and emergency responders. Complete streets accommodate people of all ages and abilities. Complete streets expand transportation choices by making walking, bicycling, and public transportation more convenient and safe. This includes consideration of varying levels of tolerance for traffic stress when choosing a transportation mode, particularly as it relates to bicycling.

The guidebook seeks to provide a way for local governments to successfully implement a complete streets policy, from planning and design through implementation. It suggests way to incorporate complete streets into community plans, measure the effectiveness of complete streets policies, provide context for how complete streets can impact current systems and procedures, develop projects based on land use and street function classifications, designs for complete streets, programs that benefit complete streets projects, and how to communicate the benefits of complete streets to the public. The guide also includes a complete streets project review and design checklist. The checklist is a tool that can be used in planning and public works departments to identify opportunities for complete streets

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for Santa Cruz County are taking public comments on the draft guide through August 23. For more information about the proposed Complete Streets Guide and opportunities to send your comments, visit the Monterey Bay Area Complete Streets Guidebook page.

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