Complete Streets 2.0: “More Projects, Faster”

Markeshia Ricks photoImagine a narrower Church Street with shorter crosswalks and more space for people on foot. Imagine it with a dedicated bike lane separated from car traffic by planters—or less sightly low-cost “delineator tubes.” Imagine it not taking years to plan, more years to design, and tens of thousands of dollars to build.

Low-dollar, quick turnaround projects like the hypothetical Church Street scenario are at the heart of what city transit chief Doug Hausladen and City Engineer Giovanni Zinn are calling Complete Streets 2.0.

Zinn and Hausladen tag-teamed a presentation to a Board of Alders’ City Services and Environmental Policy Committee hearing at City Hall Wednesday night.

The presentation focused on a way forward for the city’s plan to design streets that work for pedestrians, bike riders and drivers, known as “Complete Streets.” The vision hinges on what the city can do well, do quickly, and do without spending a whole lot of money.

Hausladen said so far Complete Streets has “created expectations that it has not yet met” with its project request form, and has been hampered by a constrained budget and a lack of feedback from city residents.

Complete Streets 2.0 aims to change that by including more meetings with neighbors like one in Wooster Square the night before about low-cost traffic calming solutions for Olive Street.

Zinn (pictured at a recent Westville community meeting) said the focus also would be on solutions that can be implemented in a few months, not years. “We don’t want to just talk,” he said. “We want to do.”

Hausladen said the goal is to get at least one pilot project in every neighborhood by the end of 2015.

He said the new direction calls for traffic-calming solutions where the city can “fail fast,” meaning if the city uses paint to narrow a street and shorten a crosswalk, and it doesn’t achieve the desired effect, it can be removed without causing the city a lot of financial strain.

“Something like that can be removed the next day,” he said.

“Three hundred dollars worth of paint that doesn’t achieve our objective is a lot less painful than $300,000 worth of curb that doesn’t achieve our objective,” Zinn added.

Plans also are in the works for implementing a computer program that creates a feedback loop on work order requests made through SeeClickFix along with a request for the city to endorse the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Street Design Guide so that the city’s Complete Streets Design manual might be appended with the guide. Hausladen said that ultimately there would be a need to ask the state to add NACTO standards to state guidelines to provide more flexibility.

He said the city cannot pursue certain ideas—such as a two-way cycle track for bikes—because the state had dubbed them illegal.

“Our engineers would lose their license if they built them,” Hausladen said, so at some point state legislators will need to try to change laws. Until then, the focus will be on what the city can do within the law to make changes.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 20, 2014  9:37am

Here we go again.More for the Bicyclist.

posted by: mr bill on November 20, 2014  9:59am

10 pound delineators look too easy to steal.

posted by: rat2013 on November 20, 2014  10:03am

Really happy about this. I can guess why resident feedback has been limited under the current complete streets regime - while the complete streets application is only 2 pages long, it requires referencing a lengthy manual and answering questions like why this proposed project supports principles of “connectivity.” It’s pretty intimidating for the layperson, in my opinion.

posted by: William Kurtz on November 20, 2014  10:12am

posted by: Threefifths on November 20, 2014 8:37am

Here we go again.More for the Bicyclist.

Why not, after 100 years of development intended solely to make it possible to zip around back and forth across town on 2-5 trips at 40 miles per hour?

posted by: vc man on November 20, 2014  10:25am

First line of the article:“Imagine a narrower Church Street with shorter crosswalks and more space for people on foot.”

posted by: Bradley on November 20, 2014  10:27am

3/5ths, I believe that you are, at times, a pedestrian who will benefit from these improvements. Narrowing the roadway on Church Street would reduce the odds of you being hit while crossing the street.

Since many of the most problematic streets are downtown, an alternative funding source for improvements to these streets is the Town Green District, which has its own taxing authority.

One word of caution about planters. I’m from Chicago, which installed planters in the medians of the boulevards as a traffic calming measure. The initial design interfered with drivers’ line of sight and all of the planters had to be replaced (the new design works well).

posted by: Mikelive on November 20, 2014  10:36am

Yep, here we go again with more PR on what the city should but probably will not do.

  Traffic calming “solutions” which costs lots of money for the overburdened taxpayers instead of mentioning police enforcing traffic laws, which is a rarity in this city. Doesnt the state care? They are not getting much money from traffic violations in NHV, why is that?

Why dont they EVER mention increasing traffic patrol???

posted by: RhyminTyman on November 20, 2014  10:50am

This is great news that they are trying to be proactive. How many more people need to be hit by cars until the city as a whole realizes that this isn’t working. I would lower to city speed to either 15 or 20. Get people walking, biking, and taking public transit. This is also a public health issue because of the air population in New Haven has caused an extremely high asthma rate.

posted by: TheMadcap on November 20, 2014  11:44am

3/5, you probably hate cyclists because you view them as a symbol of yuppie gentrifiers, but the people most likely to cycle in this city are the urban poor who don’t even own cars often because they can’t afford them, they just don’t make an entire lifestyle out of it.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on November 20, 2014  11:52am

This all sounds great, and if you want a good example of what paint alone can do, check out the “T”-intersection where Edgewood meets park, or the bike lane on Elm Street from York to College.

But whatever happened to the conversion to two-way streets? Did that die with the new Mayor? And will we ever get the lights to sync on major downtown arteries, such as Elm, Chapel, George, State, Church and Grove?

posted by: DavidKahn on November 20, 2014  11:57am

This is great! Doug is the kind of person who makes public service look worthwhile, and it’s great to see the city in action to make New Haven safer and more livable with this kind of initiative.
ThreeFifths, it sounds like you think this would not be an appropriate use of resources. Can you say more about that?

posted by: robn on November 20, 2014  12:49pm

Planters that don’t interfere with line of sight would be nice but delineators are quickly and economically achievable. I also think a softer, more permeable barrier would give cyclists a quicker way out of the lane in the event to of an emergency (unexpected obstruction or pothole?)

posted by: robn on November 20, 2014  12:55pm

PS

When are we going to convert all of our streets to two way? Our early modernism one way road system was ALWAYS a bad idea out of scale with NH and inappropriate for our often colliding colonial street grids. This would go a long way toward traffic calming. I thought this was a priority for the Harp administration? Most of the infrastructure is already in place…All it takes is a plan. DO IT for Pete’s sake!

posted by: yim-a on November 20, 2014  3:34pm

One can break most traffic ordinances (except for parking down town) with near impunity in New Haven.  In my neighborhood (Fair Haven),  speeding (and I mean sppeeeddding) seems an expression of cultural pride.  Red lights are run with almost impressive brazenness and disregard for consequence.  My opinion,  enforcement of traffic safety will only happen when Hartford allows New Haven to keep it’s ticket revenue.  Any state reps (Dillon, Lamar?) or Looney interested in exploring this?  I think it’s the best way of changing the traffic culture in New Haven.  Otherwise, more of the Wild Wild West.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 20, 2014  3:41pm

I quiver with anticipation of the holy grail of the bike gestapos - narrower streets especially on Church and all the other downtown venues that carry a lot of traffic to our core services and places of interest. Traffic will be backed up for blocks. Just think of all the congestion, of all the added pollution from idling cars and buses. But hells bells, we’ll have bikers able to zip around at their leisure. Don’t breathe too deeply. And for the record, I’ve crossed these streets hundreds and hundreds of times on my bike and on foot, and funny thing, never come close to being hit. But calm away.

Meanwhile, as a practical matter, we’ll avoid downtown. There are lots of places to shop, park, eat and go to the movies

posted by: anonymous on November 20, 2014  4:06pm

“Traffic will be backed up for blocks.”

Seriously? 

I stood in the middle of Church Street, in front of City Hall, at 5:15PM on a weekday last month.  There was not a single car on the road for three blocks in either direction.

Church Street is currently a dangerous one-way highway, and it cripples the job growth and economic development of our city.  It has way too many lanes, and is not at all friendly to people who walk, bike, or take the bus.

Turn it into a two-way, traffic-calmed street and businesses along it will see triple digit percentagewise increases in sales.

posted by: Mike Slattery on November 20, 2014  4:34pm

Way to go Doug and Co.  The thing that looked lacking from Complete Streets execution in the past was ownership.  The city is compelled to consider CS apps but no one was tasked to own the process and coordinate Traffic/Public Works/etc.    This team is stepping up.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 20, 2014  5:27pm

posted by: TheMadcap on November 20, 2014 10:44am

3/5, you probably hate cyclists because you view them as a symbol of yuppie gentrifiers, but the people most likely to cycle in this city are the urban poor who don’t even own cars often because they can’t afford them, they just don’t make an entire lifestyle out of it.

I do not hate cyclists.I hate that the laws are not enforce on them.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 20, 2014  8:13pm

No traffic for blocks, and yet we need to have traffic calming? Wait, what? And the eutopian two way streets? I’m a fan, but it is pure irrational euphoria to say businesses will triple their revenue. That’s what they said about Gateway - and guess what? Hasn’t happened.

posted by: Fairhavener on November 20, 2014  8:37pm

Actually Threefifths, your words on these boards say differently and you seem to have it in for cyclists and whites:

From “Cyclists Can Have Their Say” 12-28-2010, NHI:

Questioning the effectiveness of riding bikes in inclement weather and not “non-enforcement of laws” as you state:

“posted by: Threefifths on December 28, 2010 9:34am

How can you ride a bike in the snow storm?”

From “Cyclists Pedestrians Gain in Downtown Crossing Redesign,” 11-11-11 NHI,

Labeling bicycle activists as a white only demographic:

“posted by Threefifths on November 11, 2011 4:16pm:

Personally, I care about equal opportunities for all people even if they are not middle aged, wealthy white people (like virtually 100% of people involved in planning the Route 34 development).”

Seems to me you have it in for bicycling, in general, and for people who are fighting for a healthier environment for all, since we do all live on earth, right?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 20, 2014  10:20pm

posted by: Fairhavener on November 20, 2014 7:37pm

From “Cyclists Can Have Their Say” 12-28-2010, NHI:

Questioning the effectiveness of riding bikes in inclement weather and not “non-enforcement of laws” as you state:

“posted by: Threefifths on December 28, 2010 9:34am

How can you ride a bike in the snow storm?”

From “Cyclists Pedestrians Gain in Downtown Crossing Redesign,” 11-11-11 NHI,

Labeling bicycle activists as a white only demographic:

“posted by Threefifths on November 11, 2011 4:16pm:

Personally, I care about equal opportunities for all people even if they are not middle aged, wealthy white people (like virtually 100% of people involved in planning the Route 34 development).”

Can you please show me these links so I I can click on them.


Also explain this.

From “Cyclists Can Have Their Say” 12-28-2010, NHI:

Questioning the effectiveness of riding bikes in inclement weather and not “non-enforcement of laws” as you state:

“posted by: Threefifths on December 28, 2010 9:34am

How can you ride a bike in the snow storm?”

From “Cyclists Pedestrians Gain in Downtown Crossing Redesign,” 11-11-11 NHI,

Labeling bicycle activists as a white only demographic:

“posted by Threefifths on November 11, 2011 4:16pm:

Personally, I care about equal opportunities for all people even if they are not middle aged, wealthy white people (like virtually 100% of people involved in planning the Route 34 development).”

Can you please put these links on so I can see them.

Also I wonder haow many bikers have done this in New Haven.

CYCLISTS HIT AT LEAST 35 PEDESTRIANS IN CENTRAL PARK THIS YEAR
Posted on October 22, 2014 at 9:47 am by West Sider


http://www.westsiderag.com/2014/10/22/cyclists-hit-at-least-35-pedestrians-in-central-park-this-year

posted by: Bradley on November 21, 2014  9:29am

Yim-a, the allocation of ticket revenue raises a conundrum. If you simply allow the cities to keep a larger share of the revenue, there will be less money going into the Special Transportation Fund, which pays for mass transit as well as roads and bridges. Increasing the fines, with the cities keeping the increase, makes it more likely that drivers will contest their tickets, further clogging the courts.

posted by: The Goatville Cyclesmith LLC on November 21, 2014  9:59am

Bicycle use is on the rise in all our cities.  A little accommodation will make it less dangerous for us all.  Traffic calming measures will benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.  The normal stop and go of urban driving will become less frantic; and distracted driving less dangerous.

posted by: Bradley on November 21, 2014  10:36am

Mikelive, traffic calming can be a cheaper and more effective way of dealing with speeding and other offenses. I’ve talked with the NHPD over the years I’ve been involved with my management team. Their consistent position has been that stationing cops at problematic locations temporarily addresses the problem, but that driver behavior returns to normal a day or two after the cop moves on to other responsibilities.

Ideally, you want better street design and enhanced enforcement. But a bump out is permanent, unlike a cop who will be reassigned if there is a crime or accident on the other side of town.

posted by: RichTherrn on November 21, 2014  12:37pm

I’m especially interested in the “one per neighborhood” idea. I drive around th city all day to go to schools, and the majority of the “street calming efforts” so far seem to be in th East Rock/Downtown area.. Now that I live near there I see many blocks in those areas that have multiple bike ones/crosswalks/speed bumps, etc… While I get that Yale helps pay for some of those, it seems a bit too focused, especially in the same neighborhoods served by the private Yale Shuttle..
Many streets and intersections near NHPS schools could use some TLC as well. As pointed out, it shouldn’t depend on the people living there having to figure out and go through a process. Howard/Truman/Congress Ave in the Hill, Kimberly Ave, Grand/Blatchley/Ferry/Chapel in FairHaven, even Whalley and Dixwell and cross streets north of Yale should all be priorities, and once K12 students see that, culture can change

posted by: Bill Saunders on November 21, 2014  1:21pm

vc man,

“More space for people on foot”—As a pedestrian, I have NEVER felt the sidewalks were overcrowded.  Roadways, yes….

posted by: robn on November 21, 2014  1:22pm

RT,

I agree with the one-per-neighborhood idea too but its an unfair characterization to suggest favoritism towards ER. People who live in and frequent ER were some of the first people in the city to heavily push the city for bike lanes and crosswalk signs and that’s why its one of the first places that they appeared.

posted by: Hill Resident on November 21, 2014  2:45pm

A COMPLETE STREETS Application was submitted over 4 years ago for street calming measures on Truman Street. We asked for ‘anything’ that would reduce the speed of the vehicles that race down this quarter mile strip of road that is single laned parking on both sides with no stop signs for 4 blocks and a school at the end of the block. If the city felt we did not ‘deserve’ speed bumps, speed humbs, bumpout or even a STOP SIGn mid way down Truman, the we asked for the painting SLOW or STOP in the street with white paint and very large letters at he intersections. Can we expect something? ... anything? I don’t know how many of these things can be found in the East Rock neighborhood. We just want a little paint ... I’ll even buy it!

posted by: robn on November 21, 2014  3:04pm

HR,

Street calming measures in ER that I’m aware of

painted bike lanes on Orange
a speed table at Edwards/Livingston
speed humps on Canner

posted by: Dwightstreeter on November 23, 2014  9:12pm

Don’t be grumpy, Three-fifths. The love affair with the car is over and someone has to keep us pesky cyclists safe.
And the plants will look nice too.