“Complete Streets” workshop Friday
Planners will gather in Sacramento Friday for a workshop that focuses on creating safer, more accessible streets in the central city and beyond.
The Local Government Commission and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District are hosting a "Complete Streets" workshop to educate people about the need to transform more vehicle-dominated roadways into streets that are healthy, safe and easy to use for people on foot, bicycles and wheelchairs.
"’Complete street’ is a term that’s emerged in the last four to five years to really address the need to have policies that result in streets that accomodate all users, not just people in a car," said Paul Zykofsky, director of the Local Government Commission’s land use and transportation programs. The commission, which began as the SolarCAL Commission in the 1970s, is made up of local government officials concerned primarily with creating livable communities.
More diverse use of streets also can bolster air quality and lessen impacts on land and water.
"It means taking a more holistic approach to the way we design, build and operate our streets," he said.
The California Department of Transportation, Sacramento Area Council of Governments and WalkSacramento also are sponsoring the workshop, which will be held Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1230 J St. Most of those attending are expected to be private and public planners, including local elected officials and government agency staff.
The event will introduce the concept and report the current status of the region’s urban and suburban streets. Speakers also will address laws and possible financial support for complete streets projects.
The central city is well ahead of its outlying areas and suburbs in terms of accessible streets. That’s mainly because walking has always been a common form of transportation in the grid. Also, the city has worked to make more streets safe and accessible to various users for at least six years, said one of the workshop’s moderators, Anne Geraghty, who serves as executive director for WalkSacramento. The nonprofit, which promotes walkable communities, is leading an informal coalition of individuals and agencies interested in complete streets in the Sacramento area.
Pedestrians simply weren’t considered by planners and designers when many suburbs were created, so problems with streets are "more profound" there, she said.
"For over 50 years, our communities have kind of taken walking for granted," she said. "The central city is one of the better places in our region, but it has problems as well."
Streets that are examples of complete or incomplete streets are easy to find in the central city. Two of the most recently "completed" streets are 19th and 21st. The city transformed both from one-way, three-lane streets to one-way, two-lane streets, then added bicycle lanes on both sides of the streets and a lot more well-marked crosswalks, she said.
Two of the more problematic streets are sections of I and 12th, where the lack of bike lanes results in bicyclists riding on sidewalks. Bicyclists may be safer there, but pedestrians may feel they’re not, she added.
Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates has been lobbying to get the three-lane section of I Street, starting at 21st Street, changed from three lanes to two and possibly back to two-way traffic, in addition to getting bike lanes.
"We would like to see all the streets in the region be complete so you can walk easily, especially to nearby destinations," Geraghty said.