A regional effort in southern California helps three cities pass top-scoring Complete Streets policies

Downtown Hermosa Beach, CA
Downtown Hermosa Beach, CA, home to one of the top 10 best Complete Streets policies of 2012. Photo via Wikimedia.

On Monday, the National Complete Streets Coalition released its annual analysis of the best Complete Streets policies of the past year. The 10 diverse communities with the best policies of the year include three California cities in the Los Angeles metro area: Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park, and Rancho Cucamonga. Hermosa Beach and Huntington Park tied for second place on our list of top policies, and Rancho Cucamonga came in at number 10.

Part of their success stems from an initiative to improve public health through better street design across the entire Los Angeles region. With the help of federal funds, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health launched its RENEW Los Angeles County initiative, which significantly supported communities that wanted to focus on multimodal, sustainable, equitable transportation. Other public health funds including through the Healthy Kids Healthy Communities program run by Active Living by Design, provided support to other communities in the region.

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Announcing new resources for communities implementing Complete Streets policies

A bicyclist in California, from the cover of the California Department of Transportation’s Complete Streets Implementation Action Plan, one of the resources included in the new overview.

New resources are now available to help communities successfully implement Complete Streets policies.

The National Complete Streets Coalition’s Implementation tools include general guidance and specific strategies to help leaders and advocates address design standards, concerns about funding costs and measuring outcomes.

These resources are designed to be used by local leaders working to put Complete Streets policies into action. Throughout those pages you can find best practices, suggested activities, and resources to help guide your community through Complete Streets implementation. We provide examples of materials that are used by communities of all sizes from across the country at all stages of policy implementation.

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Complete Streets winners, big and small

Downtown Lancaster, California. Photo courtesy of the City of Lancaster.

A Complete Streets approach helped Lancaster, California revitalize its commercial core and win the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement for Overall Excellence.

After decades of decline, the city’s downtown, centered on Lancaster Boulevard, had become home to rising crime and unemployment rates. Automobiles regularly travelled at speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour, and many of the intersections were controlled by traffic signals. Residents believed that the street was dangerous to cross and unpleasant to walk and shop along.

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Complete Streets pay off

From New York City’s new report, Measuring the Street.

With its new report Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets, New York City illustrates how its Complete Streets approach meets new goals – and builds local economies.

Communities implementing Complete Streets policies must adopt new performance measures for transportation projects and the networks of streets as a whole. Such measures should provide clarity on how those projects are meeting community needs and goals for the transportation network. Success can be measured in a number of ways, including improved safety for all users; physical changes to the built environment; number of people walking, riding bikes, taking transit, or riding in cars; and improving travel conditions and access for all.

New York City has focused on three overarching goals: designing for safety, designing for all users of the street, and designing for great public spaces. To meet these goals, the City’s Department of Transporation uses five key strategies: designing safer streets, building great public spaces, improving bus service, reducing delay and speeding, and efficiency in parking and loading. New approaches to street design reflect a “blending [of] new technologies with time-tested tools to create 21st Century Streets for all users,” and have resulted in safer streets, more efficient travel, and big boosts for local businesses.

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