Complete Streets are multi-use environments that enable safe and comfortable access for all users on both roadways and sidewalks in a way that promotes vibrant, healthy and active neighborhoods. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities, including older people, children and people with disabilities, are able to safely move along and across a Complete Street environment.” (Definition from Conference Program)
Strong examples are noticeably lacking in Los Angeles, but this conference was designed to inspire people to action!
Held at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown LA, it was a treat to go to a conference on one of my favorite topics: making streets more people friendly. You might say I’m a radical “streets for people” person, my attempt to be more positive than saying I’m a radical anti-carist, not wanting my car owning friends to be offended by my passions.
The unusually long day (8am to 7 pm) was supported with lots of fabulous food. Though I don’t want to appear unappreciative of the many culinary delights, probably we could do with less eating and more movement a la Japanese style. Seems like tai chi breaks are more common than coffee breaks in that part of the world, and there’s a lot less obesity and degenerative diseases there as well, so no time like the present to start eating less and moving ourselves more, much easier once our streets become more complete, the main subject here, after all.
The event was sold out nearly two weeks before the happening. It was impressive to see that at least half the 350 or so attendees were staff from a variety of public agencies: Metro, L.A. City’s Department of Transportation, L.A. County’s Department of Public Health and others. The balance of attendees were primarily students and faculty from several local academic institutions. UCLA’s Lewis and Luskin Centers, along with Los Angeles County RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness) were the co-organizing sponsors. Many other sponsors lent energy to the event, including UC’s Transportation Center, The California Endowment, Metro, Green LA, AIA Los Angeles, ASLA Southern California, LACBC, SCAG, Safe Routes to School, UEPI at Occidental College, AHBE Landscape Architects, the Castle Press, Stanley R. Hoffman Associates, Linscott Law & Greenspan engineers, APA, LA City Planning Departement, Ryan Snyder Associates and Safe Routes to School. Gosh, hope I didn’t leave anyone out (the papers never credit all the great energy that goes into making a successful event–yeah blogs! Oh, and then there were also advisory and outreach committees made up of many hard working folks whose names will be familiar to most of you who follow this stuff). A healthy showing of nonprofit reps and activists were also attending.
Though I didn’t get there till almost noon, I still heard some cool quotes. Here are a few:
Why did you go to school?” Professor Emeritus Allan B. Jacobs asked rhetorically. “To get ideas! Then, propose them!” Jacobs taught City and Regional Planning and Urban Design at UC Berkeley, and formerly headed up San Francisco’s Planning Department. His quote seemed to be directed toward anyone who might complain about things not being right, but especially those who work in the public sector.