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LA Groups Release Guide to Creating Better California Streets

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Taking the concept of complete streets a step further--to living streets--a coalition of local policy experts and designers released the Model Design Manual for Living Streets yesterday. The manual is intended to help municipalities, designers, planners, and engineers create better street design. Curbed talked to Ryan Snyder, one of the consultants on the project, today--he explained that the manual is about "The DNA of urban form" and how to "reallocate space, curb to curb." That means looking at the lanes, curbs, bike lanes, and medians that make up a street. All of which is very important because of 2008's AB 1358, which requires California municipalities to include safe and accessible streets when they update the transportation elements of their general plans.

For those with a fear of lawyers, the manual's website lays out the legal issues: "Most changes to streets discussed in this manual fall within the range of the guidelines or recommended practices of nationally recognized organizations such as AASHTO, ITE, Urban Land Institute (ULI), and Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Unless otherwise noted, everything in this manual can readily be adopted and incorporated without fear of increased liability." As for the state fire code, well that is still a problem: "the California state Fire Code does exist in conflict with properly researched guidelines and standards documented by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and AASHTO."

In a cool tech move, the producers have made the manual open source--any municipality or designer can use the manual, tailor it for a specific case, and then share their results. The manual was released yesterday with a celebration at Metro Headquarters. Prominent partners in the project include the County Department of Public Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, the UCLA Luskin Center, and many, many more.
· Model Design Manual for Living Streets [Official Site]