Caltrans adopts Complete Streets action plan

Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki approved a Complete Streets Action Plan on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, directing state transportation agency employees to “view all transportation improvements as opportunities to improve safety, access, and mobility for all travelers in Calfornia and recognizes bicycle, pedestrian, and transit modes as integral elements of the transportation system.”

The California Department of Transportation is directed to develop integrated multimodal projects in balance with community goals, plans, and values. Addressing the safety and mobility needs of bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users in all projects, regardless of funding, is implicit in these objectives. Bicycle, pedestrian, and transit travel is facilitated by creating “complete streets” beginning early in system planning and continuing through project delivery, maintenance, and operations.

Market Street cyclist getting the squeeze

Multi-modal streets have generally been treated as “special projects” requiring extra planning, funding, and effort. The complete streets approach is different. Its intent is to view all transportation improvements as opportunities to create safer, more accessible streets for all users. Under this approach, even small projects can be an opportunity to make meaningful improvements. In repaving projects, for example, an edge stripe can be shifted to create more room for cyclists. In routine work on traffic lights, the timing can be changed to better accommodate pedestrians walking at a slower speed.

In the Action Plan, Caltrans will update and develop manuals, guidance and training used by department staff in their transportation planning work. A steering committee within Caltrans is tasked and empowered specifically to overcome internal corporate “carhead” culture.

The Action Plan calls out the importance of promoting and facilitating bicycling in California, noting that “bicyclists … are permitted on all State facilities” except where they are specifically prohibited. Facilitating non-car transportation results in more options for people to get from point A to B; less traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions; more active transportation with healthier people; and fewer barriers for the elderly, children, and the disabled.

Bicyclists use extreme caution

The new Caltrans Complete Streets Action Plan is intended to make car ownership less of a requirement in our society and more optional.

For more information, see Caltrans Complete Streets information page.


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