More 'Complete Streets' Are Planned For California Neighborhoods

Road diets have a new phrase. State lawmakers are calling them 'Complete Streets' and California became the first state to approve a 'Complete Street policy' back in 2008.

The policy means that street improvements and construction will now have to factor in all commuters, not just drivers. Roads will be reduced, lanes made smaller, parking spaces removed, and bike lanes added. Why? Because of the increase in traffic fatalities on the roads in California.

“We are facing a traffic safety crisis in this country,” said Fremont public works director Hans Larsen, who speaks to groups about Complete Streets. “The number of people dying on our streets has been increasing in recent years. There are concerning factors that are creating these deaths, and this is going to continue.”

The most recent restructured Complete Streets include Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, Delaware Street in Santa Cruz, and Farm Bureau Road in Concord. This spring, even more roads are expected to be converted. And the changes are definitely noticed. One lane is removed each way, a center left-turn is installed, and more bike lanes are added.

“This is really important,” said Ryan Russo, Oakland’s public works director. “If everyone is using a car for every trip, that just won’t work anymore."

Changes are also coming for Tasman Drive, Story Road-Keyes Street, El Camino Real, Sloat Boulevard, 19th Avenue, and Van Ness Boulevard in the future. But not everyone in the community is excited about the road changes.

When the Valley Transportation Authority proposed their idea to reserve bus lanes on El Camino Real, locals protested and successfully ended the plan.

“You take away lanes from drivers just trying to get around for bicyclists and bus riders,” said Fred Lee of Santa Clara. “That made no sense. None at all.”

Most recently, Orange County officials in Westminster proposed to reduce car lanes and add a four-mile bike lane on Hazard Avenue. It's a $3.5 million project and is expected to begin construction in 2020. Read more about that new parking-protected bike lane on StreetsBlogCal. Read more about California's upcoming Complete Streets on The Mercury News.

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