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Walkability expert Jeff Speck visits Orlando

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Harry Barley, Executive Director for MetroPlan Orlando; Lisa Portelli, Winter Park Health Foundation Program Director and BWCF Board Member; and Jill Hamilton Buss, Executive Director, Healthy Central Florida; with walkability author/speaker Jeff Speck

Lose weight, save money, help the environment.

Those are some of the major benefits of walking, according to city planner, urban designer and author Jeff Speck, who recently spoke in Orlando.

Walkability is key to getting people out of their cars and on their feet, Speck said.

He defined walkability as having four main components:

  1. Useful – Gets people where they’re going in an efficient manner.
  2. Safe – Adequate lighting, safe distance from the roadway, etc.
  3. Comfortable – Wide enough space to walk, aesthetics such as benches
  4. Interesting – Something to look at, something to entertain the walker – this could even be art or advertising.

Walking, he said, reduces the amount of money commuters spend on gas, decreases automotive greenhouse gas emissions and improves health. Studies show that those who commute by bicycle or walking on a regular basis weigh significantly less than those who commute by car.

When a city invests in infrastructure, Speck said, bicycling and walking becomes a more popular option for people.

“Right-sizing” the streets, or making them safer for pedestrians and bicyclists by narrowing traffic lanes and adding wide sidewalks and bike lanes, is a key to walkability.

Millennials, Speck said, are increasingly demanding walkable cities, and if they aren’t delivered, young professionals will go elsewhere. Orlando’s continued growth relies on its ability to become a walkable city.

BWCF Executive Director, Amanda Day, spoke to the Orlando Sentinel about local road and transportation updates around Robinson Street and Denning Drive in Jason Ruiter’s Jeff Speck article, “Transportation Expert Spreads Message of Walking.”

Jeff Speck is the author of The Smart Growth Manual, Suburban Nation, and most recently, Walkable CityTo hear him speak about the walkable city, play his Ted Talk below.


 

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