-By Caryl O'Keefe
Dan Burden, the nationally recognized Executive Director of Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, led the City of Albany’s Dec. 6 Kickoff session of the multi-part project “Complete Streets.” Complete Streets means street design with users of all types and abilities in mind: pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, seniors, children, people with disabilities, and motorists. Buchanan St and San Pablo Ave (also known as State Highway 123) are the two streets in scope of this project.
Small group workshops preceded the kickoff session to explore the needs of specific groups in Albany such as pedestrians, bicyclists, those with disabilities, etc.
Streets "Before and After"
Mr. Burden presented stories about, and images of, several US cities’ major streets, some with “before and after” shots. He emphasized the need for street design to add to the value of the property. Beauty, safety, and accessibility add value, while ugly and difficult-to-access streets discourage peoples’ presence and “devitalize” the surroundings. “After” pictures showed streets where people thronged wide sidewalks, patronized businesses with attractive storefronts, biked safely, easily crossed roadways with fewer lanes, and enjoyed a streetscape of trees, planters, sidewalk cafes, etc.
Audience participation began with visioning on file cards of Albany’s portion of San Pablo Ave: What should it be like in the year 2020? Then each attendee wrote just a five words, one on each of five post-its, describing the most important aspects of Albany. Mr. Burden explained this exercise gives similar answers from different groups at different times, in the SAME city. But different cities have different answers.
Scribes recorded comments from the audience about what was most important for street design in Albany. Ideas included having some “there” on San Pablo Ave, protected lanes for bicylists, a sense of “arrival” at City entry ways, accommodation for residents of the Orientation Center for the Blind, etc. After generating ideas, each attendee received colored dots to vote for favorite scribed points.
More Activities Dec 8 and Dec 12
-By Caryl O'Keefe
All Complete Street activities are located at Oceanview School, 1000 Jackson St, food and refreshments provided. The next step is a community walk and design workshop on Saturday Dec 8, 9am – 2pm. It will be followed by a presentation of plan concepts Wednesday Dec 12 from 7 – 8:30pm. Presenters were pleased with the turnout Dec 6, and hope for increasing participation so many in Albany can come together for a shared discussion and better understanding of facts, options and tradeoffs.
Grant Funding for Complete Streets
Thanks to efforts of City of Albany staff, Complete Streets is funded by two sources: a planning grant from CALTRANS, and matching Measure B money from Alameda CTC. Other organizations participating on this project are the consulting group Nelson/ Nygaard, Local Government Commission (a Sacramento nonprofit), and WRT for landscape design.
More information on the City’s website.