UCLA Complete Streets Initiative – Guest Post by Grace Turney

complete streets 1On February 28, 2013, the Institute for Transportation Studies at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, the Luskin Center for Innovation, and the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies jointly held the Complete Streets Conference. It’s mission “is to conduct research, educate students, and engage the public on many critical, and often competing, roles streets play in creating a more vibrant, productive, and sustainable California.”

The day’s activities kicked off with an engaging presentation by the Associate Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. She spoke on one of the most unique reifications of the complete streets concept, parklets, and their implementation in cities across North America. She challenged the audience to view streets not only as routes but as places, and to consider street activities rather than only user modes.

complete streets 2

Over the course of the day, presenters addressed topics such as how cities can use pilot programs to transition into city-wide initiatives, new models for transportation planning and transportation agencies, sources of funding, and the role of state and federal government in what has been a mostly community driven movement. A special session focused on case studies of complete street implementation in constrained urban corridors, and the innovative engineering solutions offered.

complete streets 3The conference closed with a keynote lecture by a special guest: New York City Commissioner of Transportation Janette Sadik-Kahn. She discussed the implementation of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC and the value of having a fast-moving, agile transportation agency able to implement changes in ‘real-time’ (in some cases, overnight!). She presented specific corridors as examples of how improving transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities can increase land value and discussed the role of technology and smart streets in the initiative. Mrs. Sadik-Kahn also stressed the need for pilot programs and incremental steps, as well as the fact that safety is intrinsically tied to the sustainability of these programs.

Although the session was directed at urban planners, knowledge of the Complete Streets concept will be vital to the upcoming generations of engineers. Caltrans adopted Deputy Directive DD-64-R1 in 2008, making Complete Streets a statewide mandate. The Complete Streets initiative is a manifestation of a paradigm shift in the way communities view their streets, and civil and transportation engineers will be required to meet both the needs and desires of the public.

Additional Information





National Complete Streets Coalition (Smart Growth America)


Downtown LA Neighborhood Council


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