Meet the City’s First Ever Complete Streets Design Committee!

Members of the City’s Complete Streets Design Committee confer at LADOT HQ.

In March 2015, LADOT’s General Manager Seleta Reynolds directed the Department form a new collaborative group: The Complete Streets Design Committee. The Design Committee establishes a forum where project managers can request feedback and design guidance for their projects from diverse expertise within LADOT.

The Design Committee operates under four primary objectives:

  1. To provide guidance on design concepts.
  2. To resolve design issues.
  3. To document design decisions, particularly on new or innovative designs.
  4. To lead the department on innovative design-related policy directives.

Members of the Design Committee include representatives from the Department’s Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC), Active Transportation, Design, District Research and Support, Complete Streets, Operations, Parking, and Planning Divisions. The Design Committee combines experience and knowledge from specific fields, so that project managers can develop design guidelines used to generate Department policies and procedures. The Design Committee can also provide technical recommendations to improve specific projects in the design phase. As an evaluative board, the Design Committee provides feedback on existing designs and discusses the outcomes of recent design interventions. By harnessing the collective experience of the Department, not only will the Design Committee result in the best possible designs, but also give staff ownership and investment in those decisions, and in projects overall.

One way of informing transportation project design in Los Angeles is by piloting various treatments and practices, and then evaluating the results. For new designs that don’t have established standards, the Committee can recommend a study of best practices in other cities. If the treatment or design has merit, a pilot project can be installed to test the impact of new projects in Los Angeles. Even if the City already uses a particular design, like decorative crosswalks or leading pedestrian interval (LPI) signal timing, the effects and context across the City can differ. Supervisors from different groups can weigh in on the impact it will have on their project, and coordinate scheduling and funding so that the projects will complement, rather than compete, with each other. It also provides a safe environment where different ideas can be put forth no matter who is in the room. Design decisions must be made so that people’s safety and effectiveness of our treatments are prioritized.

People crossing Cesar Chavez Ave. get a head start with new LPI signal timing.

New Process for New Designs

As projects are completed and studied, successful design elements will be used by the Committee to create new standards for LADOT. Experimental projects can also influence policy, outreach efforts, or evaluative methods used by different divisions to plan, design, implement and assess projects. Project managers can use the Design Committee as a forum to compare different design alternatives. The new policies and standards developed by this Design Committee will guide LADOT projects in the future. If a project manager retires, or moves to a different division, the information that helped their projects is available for all LADOT staff to draw upon. This Design Committee creates a process of ongoing learning as LADOT moves towards street design innovation.

The Committee is still in a formative phase, figuring out which divisions should collaborate and deciding which procedures will work best. Currently, the Design Committee meets monthly to discuss design issues, upcoming projects, and coordination efforts between groups. Eventually, the Design Committee hopes to function as an advisory body to various City departments involved with designing street improvement projects. These can include streetscape projects, bike lanes, bridge construction, signal timing, and other projects that improve the safety and accessibility of City streets. An overarching theme in the Design Committee’s vision is adaptability. Noting that the City cannot afford to focus on “car-centric” improvements, the Design Committee will concentrate on improving all aspects of street design.  The adoption of the City’s new Mobility Plan, LADOT’s Strategic Plan, and this Design Committee are part of a citywide effort to plan for the future of the City considering all viable alternatives and using innovative thinking.

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