People On Foot

Walkable communities: Turning today’s vision into reality

Creating Vibrant Communities

A recent Wall Street Journal article brings about a few questions: Shouldn’t everyone be able to live somewhere that offers a safe, healthy and walkable environment? How do we create more vibrant communities while improving safety for all?  These are more than just goals or ideas for today’s small and large cities. It is a collective vision and it is a work in progress in many cities and small towns across our country, including The City Beautiful.

Retrofitting Our Communities

A temporary demonstration project in Orlando put Curry Ford Rd. on a road diet, creating a bike lane and new mid-block crossing for people walking.

Complete streets can help remove barriers for people who want to walk, bike or use public transit to get to work, shopping or dining. What does “Complete Street” mean?  It involves many goals and ever-changing ideas. To make streets more walkable, traffic must be slowed down. Street design, such as skinny streets that are a mere 32’ across and block lengths that are no longer than 300’ tend to slow cars down, even without speed bumps. Creating more dense neighborhoods that discourage sprawl is another way to make communities more walkable. Additionally, changing building codes to encourage more crosswalks and bike lanes and making streets look more interesting and pleasing to the eyes are two strategies utilized by urban planners.

Complete Street policies began at a national level in 2004; Orlando made it official policy in March of 2016. Their primary goal is to create a safe and multi-modal environment for all users – pedestrian, bicycle, transit and automotive. Removing barriers to make communities a network of transportation choices will increase economic activity by attracting new businesses and retaining a diverse workforce. This will inevitably improve the overall quality of life for the people of Orlando.

Saving Lives in our Communities

Through a collaborative campaign called Vision Zero, Orlando has committed to eliminate pedestrian deaths and serious injuries by the year 2040. It is a bold initiative that is aimed at building the existing momentum shift towards safer, healthier and more walkable communities for all. In order for this worthy goal to happen, change needs to occur locally, and everyone should be a part of it.

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