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Embracing Complete Streets

Westlake Urban Blog

December 18, 2014

Traffic, parking and safety. These are among the most important concerns that are raised in our conversations with communities as we work to revitalize our properties throughout the Bay Area. This can create big challenges when we promote development plans for new neighborhoods and buildings that deviate from the car-centric designs that have been the norm for the past 50 or so years. Given the long history of development patterns when “cars were king,” it is understandable that skepticism arises. This is especially true in places where densities are very low and transit options are lacking. Even in transit-rich locations, it is sometimes difficult to imagine a future where cars are not the first consideration.

But we have noticed a startling change – there is a shift occurring – fueled by changing demographics and a strong preference for living closer to jobs. This shift is challenging these 50-year-old assumptions and creating a market demand for a more connected alternative, for “complete streets,” places where cars, bikes, pedestrians and public transit coexist.

It’s not easy, but if we are going to succeed in creating communities that are vibrant and livable, and where people feel connected not only to one another, but to the environment they share, we have to figure out where the car – and the streets they travel on – fit in.

How? By embracing a vision of “complete streets”. The complete streets movement has given us a framework and a wealth of on-the-ground successes to guide our projects. Successful cities are reclaiming their streets, creating safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users, and making streets work not just for cars, but for the broader community.

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