On February 28, 2013, UCLA’s Complete Streets conference brought together students and professionals from the transportation field to discuss success stories and useful implementation tools for creating complete streets.
A major theme of the conference was to address streets and their function as more than an emphasis on modeling; instead, performance metrics need to take into account and focus on community values to understand what should be measured. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to streets; planners and engineers should focus on a comprehensive evaluation of the roles of streets within their context to create a more cohesive network of different modes.
Keynote speaker Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner, wrapped up the evening with an inspiring and motivational speech about putting plans into action. Ms. Sadik-Khan discussed New York City’s transformation to a more sustainable, safe, bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly city. She deems NYC’s 1st Avenue as the best example of a complete street in the nation. Since transforming the street, there has been a 47% decrease in commercial vehicles along the corridor, yet retail sales have increased 71%. Ms. Sadik-Khan used this example to highlight that complete streets are more than just sustainability; it is an economic development tool as well.
When asked directly how to solve Los Angeles’ problems, Ms. Sadik-Khan’s responded with, “the City has a lot of streets. More streets mean more to play with!”
Complete streets begin with pilots and transform into long-term projects over time. Ms. Sadik-Khan suggested, “make tangible the notion of a greater, greener city…show the community the benefits in real life.” According to Brian Taylor, director of UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies, selling the idea of creating more complete streets involves focusing on inclusiveness and comprehensiveness “because it’s hard to argue against completeness.”