Model Design Manual helps towns of all sizes create Living Streets

Earlier this year, over 60 experts – including Will Schroeer, Smart Growth America’s Director of Policy and Research, and Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition – gathered in Los Angeles for a two-day collaborative charette. Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, outcomes from the charette were released today as the Model Design Manual for Living Streets.

The manual focuses on creating balanced street design that accommodates cars while ensuring that pedestrians, cyclists and transit users can travel safely and comfortably. Looking at everything from crosswalks to traffic signals to curb design and more, the manual also incorporates features to make streets lively, beautiful, economically vibrant as well as environmentally sustainable.

The manual is downloadable free of charge and cities are encouraged to use it to update their current practices or as a tutorial for new ideas. Since many municipalities lack the resources to convene such an extensive gathering of experts as this past spring’s, the manual offers a template for local jurisdictions to tailor the findings to meet their specific needs.

In addition, the manual makes specific recommendations to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs associated with street design. Vital streets, innovative parking policies, and desirable neighborhoods resulting from living streets can increase revenues for the cities above current levels. Research finds that cities often experience increased economic development after adopting elements of living streets, and that’s a strategy any town can get behind.

Read more about the manual and its recommendations at