A Word on the Model Design Manual for Living Streets from Ryan Snyder

The following is a guest post from Ryan Snyder, the principal behind Ryan Snyder Associates and main organizer behind last year's meeting to create the plan for Los Angeles County's Model Design Manual for Living Streets. Since its release, the manual has been downloaded in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Slovaki, Belgium, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic. 

Last week marked the first anniversary of the charrette to create the Model Design Manual for Living Streets.  Last March 14 and 15, some 45 of the nation’s top street designers convened in Los Angeles to draft chapters of the Manual.  They included transportation engineers, transportation planners, civil engineers, landscape architects, architects, sociologists, public health officials and more. A large portion of the contributors are CNU members. The following national, state and local organizations with a stake in street design also contributed. 

·         Congress for the New Urbanism

·         AARP Public Policy Institute

·         American Society of Landscape Architects

·         Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals

·         California Department of Health Services

·         California Strategic Growth Council

·         City of Long Beach

·         City of Los Angeles Planning Department

·         Council for Watershed Health

·         Federal Highway Administration

·         Green Los Angeles Coalition

·         Institute of Transportation Engineers

·         Local Government Commission

·         American Institute of Architects

·         Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

·         National Complete Streets Coalition

·         Project for Public Spaces

·         Safe Routes to School National Partnership

·         Smart Growth America

·         UCLA Luskin Center

·         Walkable Livable Communities Institute

The work from this group was synthesized and turned into a final document. Just over six months later the Manual was complete and released on October 6, 2011. 

The Model Design Manual for Living Streets provides guidance that cities can use to replace or supplement existing road standard manuals with updated techniques to reflect a greater emphasis on active transportation and environmental sustainability.  It is also useful to help design streets on the project level.  The Manual provides a template for local jurisdictions to begin updating existing manuals. Many cities today lack the resources to undertake a major revision of their manuals. Some cities will likely want to customize the manual for their own context and streets. Cities may also amend this manual by providing more in-depth guidance on selected topics, or adding new components not included here.  It contains the following chapters:

·  Introduction 

·  Vision, goals, policies and benchmarks

 ·  Street networks and classifications

 ·  Traveled way design

 ·  Intersection design

 ·  Universal pedestrian access

 ·  Pedestrian crossings

 ·  Bikeway design 

·  Transit accommodations 

·  Traffic calming

·  Streetscape ecosystem

·  Re-placing Streets 

·  Designing land use along living streets

·  Retrofitting suburbia

· Community engagement for street design

The Manual has been downloaded over 5,000 times from at least eight countries and three continents.  It is a hot topic at numerous national, state and local conferences.  A few other things have been accomplished:

·         The Los Angeles County Metro will use concepts from the Manual in scoring projects for funding

·         The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed the Department of Public Works to use the innovative bikeway treatments and the thinking behind the Manual in their bike plan, resulting in a much stronger plan than was in play

·         The City of Baldwin Park (California) will adopt a customized version of the manual at their April 4 City Council meeting

·         The City of Lancaster (California) is in the process of customizing the manual

·         A new expanded transit chapter that will be a stand alone with more info for transit agencies will be posted in the next few weeks

·         The following are using it as a starting point for developing their own manuals: the Las Vegas region, St. Paul, MN, Broward County, FL in addition to others. 

·         Last November the manual was presented to high level people in various federal agencies at Secretary LaHood's office.  They've been helping to promote the manual.

This manual is a project of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.  They funded the production of this manual through a federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant to expand opportunities for people to bicycle and walk as an obesity prevention effort. The UCLA Luskin Center funded the Streetscape Ecosystem chapter to address environmental sustainability issues related to streets. Ryan Snyder Associates coordinated production of the Manual. 

The Model Design Manual for Living Streets is available as a free download in a Word, InDesign and PDF version atwww.modelstreetdesignmanual.com.

-- Ryan Snyder, March 2012

Photo: The Model Design Manual charrette group in Los Angeles, CA.


See CNU's previous coverage

See CNU's previous coverage of the Model Design Manual here: http://www.cnu.org/cnu_goes_to_la


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