Complete streets concept to be addressed at Transportation SummitWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A traffic planning, design and engineering professional is scheduled to present his ideas about planning “complete streets” to accommodate all types of traffic at the 2011 Transportation Summit hosted April 8 by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG).
“There is a lot of interest in the region for planning for all types of streets that work well for bicycles and pedestrians as well as cars, trucks and transit buses,” said Diane Reamer-Evans, transportation project manager for TMACOG. “We took an opportunity to bring in someone who has worked in this field to discuss it.”
John LaPlante, director of traffic engineering for T. Y. Lin International in Chicago, will be here to make a presentation titled, “Retrofitting for Complete Streets: Accommodating Bicycles and More,” on Friday morning at the summit.
“Complete streets can be done and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It’s all about making streets more useable and safer for all kinds of traffic,” LaPlante said.
“It’s also about policy and institutional change. Agencies responsible for streets have to believe they want complete streets for all users.”
A complete street is a road designed to be safe for drivers of all types of vehicles including bicyclists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, according to a book on the subject authored by LaPlante and Barbara McCann.
The complete streets concept focuses not just on individual roads, but on changing the decision-making and design process so that all users are routinely considered during the planning, designing, building and operating all roadways. Transportation projects typically begin with an automobile-oriented problem, according to LaPlante.
Speed is one of the major components of safe traffic. Maintain a target speed that’s safest for the roadway by designing streets and timing traffic lights to get vehicles to go the speed you want them to travel, he explained.
For example, design streets with 10-foot traffic lanes not 12-foot lanes to allow for safe bicycle traffic in special lanes designed for them. The best place for bikes is on streets designed for them, making it part of the transportation system, LaPlante said.
“The complete streets concept is about more than allocation of street space,” he said.
Chicago is ahead of the curve earning a silver rating (second highest) for bicycle traffic with 100 miles of bicycle lanes on streets and another 100 miles of bike paths including a 20-mile trail along the lakefront and river, said LaPlante, who served the City of Chicago for 30 years in various transportation positions including chief traffic engineer and acting commissioner of the Department of Transportation.
“We need to get Toledo and the surrounding communities involved in it,” he said.
LaPlante has been involved in several national committees that have addressed the issues of bicycle travel and safety. He has prepared bicycle plans for a number of Midwest cities and has taught courses in bicycle facility design in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Transportation Summit will include a morning panel discussion addressing road reconstruction alternatives for stretching dollars moderated by Robin Whitney, commissioner of the City of Toledo Division of Engineering Services. That discussion will be followed by LaPlante’s presentation.
After lunch, Todd Audet, deputy director of Ohio Department of Transportation District 2, is scheduled to present the keynote address titled, “Transportation Looking Forward.”
The Transportation Summit is a forum for discussing the transportation of goods and people in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, according to TMACOG officials.
Transportation planners, community leaders, engineers, economic development professionals and contractors interested in regional transportation are expected to participate in the annual event.
Professional engineers attending the event will qualify for Certified Professional Development credits and certified planners will be eligible for Certification Maintenance credits.