Complete street or fake complete street?
By now many of us have noticed that work has begun on the conversion of Cottage Way between Fulton and Watt from a 4-lane street to a two-lane "complete street" with new asphalt pavement between the roadway and the slightly-narrower drainage ditch. Completion of the project will include a median suicide lane (for turning) and striped bike routes outboard of the traffic lanes. We are told that maybe some day in the future there will also be a full, grade-separated (albeit narrow) pedestrian sidewalk along the north side that will parallel the narrow sidewalk along the south side. Well, OK, then. It will be different. It could improve things.
But what about Cottage and other Arden Arcade streets that are dominated by vehicular through-traffic (e.g. Marconi, Watt, El Camino, Arden, Eastern, Edison, Alta Arden, Fair Oaks, Howe, etc.)? What if those streets were less about commuters in cars and more about the movement of people and goods within the community? An interesting article from the web site CEOs for Cities, entitled The Case Against Urban Corridors that Act Like High-Speed Highways, makes the point that a real "complete street" serves pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and motor vehicles equally and to the benefit of the entire community. By contrast, our community has high-speed streets with fences in the median, major arterials without sidewalks, suicide lanes without pedestrian refuges, and bike lanes that use paint to "protect" cyclists. Is this the best our community can expect? Is this how it should be?