What do You Think of Level of Service?

San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) yesterday posted a discussion about traffic Level of Service. Level of Service or LOS is the metric used by planning agencies when designing road networks. Level of Service “A” is the mythical world of car advertising, with letters progressing to LOS “F,” which is near gridlock. Many city streets in the Bay Area are generally somewhere between these two extremes.

Unfortunately, LOS has historically measured only one type of traffic — that of private automobiles — with no evaluation of what improved vehicular movements means for those who don’t drive. Before California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 743 into law last year, the California Environmental Quality Act even required mitigation for projects that reduced vehicular LOS. If a new bike path or mid-block crosswalk measurably reduced vehicular throughput, California’s environmental protection law required the possible addition of traffic lanes to make up the difference.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency (VTA), which does transportation planning for the Silicon Valley region, pointed to the SPUR discussion on Twitter today and received a number of responses about LOS.