Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Designing Complete Streets for Laguna Beach

Complete Streets interventions improve overall mobility when applied to city streets. Balancing mobility reduces traffic and the demand for parking while maintaining safety. Adopting these interventions will restore balance among four modes of mobility; walking, biking, busing, and driving. These examples are not sophisticated and offer a place to begin.

Walkways: Folks tell me they don't walk or bike in Laguna because the streets are not safe enough. "Nearly half of all trips in metropolitan areas are three miles or less, 28 percent are one mile or less distances easily covered by foot or bicycle. Yet 65 percent of trips under one mile are made by automobile, in large part because incomplete streets make it dangerous or unpleasant to walk, bicycle, or take transit." Intervention is needed here to make walking routes a safe alternative to driving. Existing walkways should remain free of parked vehicles and violations enforced (Bluebird, Summit, PCH). Bicycling and walking are very healthy alternatives to driving and complete streets encourage simple walking as part of your daily exercise routine. "43% of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home meet recommended activity levels"

Traffic Calming: Raised island medians, landscaped bulb-outs, slower speeds, planted trees and painted right-of-ways remind drivers of the shared use of streets and to drive with caution. This slows the traffic. Traffic calming techniques could be used on PCH to reduce the danger to cyclists and pedestrians sharing the corridor between North and South Laguna. Drivers from the 133 connector enter Broadway speeding from the Canyon despite the reduced speed limit. Use traffic calming techniques here to slow traffic from the canyon at the entry to the Festival of Arts. Establish a uniform speed limit for Park Avenue (there are four different ones now) and complete the bike and pedestrian infrastructure along this street. Complete the traffic median islands on Alta Laguna to slow vehicle traffic. Slow the downhill traffic on Bluebird Cress and Summit to protect pedestrians.

Bikeways: Years ago a utility bike-route was designed by Roger Taylor M.D. and Mick Donoff to define a safe cycling route through Laguna. The route carries bike commuters North or South along the safe quiet back streets of Laguna far removed from dangerous PCH traffic. This route follows Catalina in Central Laguna through downtown to Monterey Street in the North and gives bike access to the banks, post office, printer, city hall, 4 pastry shops, office services and 7 great coffee shops along the way. (Who could resist this route?) All of this bike access requires no new or existing car parking. Despite the utility of this route, a permanent bikeway was never established. An intervention here would define this route as a permanent Class II bikeway for utility bicycle commuters with signs, striping and large bicycle silhouette to define the way for riders and drivers. Cyclists complying with traffic rules make better commuters and promote more cycling. Next week: sidewalks, crosswalks, parking and schools.