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Douglas Henley II

Douglas Henley II is currently a vice president at Owen Realty Services, offering subject matter expertise and guidance concerning all internal operations. At the moment, he is working on a corporate-wide quality standards and training program geared to improve management methodology amongst executives and supervisors, and he is the chosen representative for community development speaking endeavors. Prior to assuming the position of vice president at Owens Realty, Henley was Director of Facilities and Operations at the Capitol Region Education Council, some of which responsibilities included management of real estate assets and operational leadership. 

In addition to his primary occupation, Henley brings an abundance of experience with outside programs to Bike/Walk Central Florida. He serves as a board member for Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, and is also active on the MetroPlan Orlando Community Advisory Committee, LifeWorks Coach for the Jobs Partnership of Florida program and serves as the Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Lambda Chapter Representative for the National Pan Hellenic Council. Previously, Henley was the Board Chair for the Corporation of Independent Living, served on the national board for the National School Plant Management Association, and was appointed to the prestigious West Hartford Art League board. 

Henley received his undergraduate degree in sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University, with a concentration in urban planning. He earned a Certificate in Facilities Management from the University of Hartford Construction Institute. 

Why are you devoting your time to this cause? 

I grew up in an urban environment, in a high-rise tenement building, surrounded by pavement, very little grass.  The common mode of transportation to anything in the city was by walking.  I was considered a walker from 7th grade through high school.  I also walked 6 miles a day to my after-school job. In those formative years, I learned that navigating sidewalks and crosswalks made the difference between being on time and being safe. I now strive to be a champion for those that need one, and I will advocate for the safety of others who have no choice but to walk or cycle to their destination.   

Are you a biker or a walker? 

I am an avid cyclist, at one time I owned as many as five bicycles each serving a different kind of cycling enjoyment.  When my wife and I were deciding which community to build in, easy access to the West Orange Trail was a determining factor. I now ride safely at least three times a week on that trail. 

Earliest memory of biking or walking? 

When I was young, I was offered a used bicycle to ride around my neighborhood.  I remember my first new bike and my father sternly cautioning me not to ride downtown.  Well, I did not listen to his advice and took a joyride through the city streets to a popular department store.  I chained the new bike to a fence in the rear parking lot and enjoyed my time window shopping in the toy section.  Sadly, my father had a reason to warn me, when I returned to where I left my new bike, it was gone.  As a tough lesson, it was the last time I had a new bike for some time.  

How will bicycles save the world? 

As a passionate movie watcher, I can think of many dystopian, end of world storylines where all transportation is no longer viable due to fuel shortages. The main character then finds a mountain bike in the garage of an evacuated home.  This might be a classic example of life imitating art.  Therefore, I appreciate seeing our bikes stored in our garage as the transportation solution when all else fails!  

What is the most notable achievement thus far toward safer streets in Central Florida? 

I would say that the Best Foot Forward Program is critically important to fight the war against unsafe driving practices. With so many new residents, each time a new license is issued, the Best Foot Forward Program Fact Sheet should be required reading. We are at the bottom and with such a devastating and poor reputation for pedestrian safety, there is no place to go but up.  Look up and slow down for pedestrians and walkers.   

If you could change one road in Orlando to better accommodate walkers and bikers, which would it be? 

The road that I would change for a positive impact for walkers and cyclists would be, Route 50.  This East–West road runs through numerous communities and therefore connects Central Florida residents.  It is populated with retail, community services, and general business locations that are visited every day. Many of our neighbors, who serve as front-line or even entry-level staff live close to Route. 50.  Therefore, I would openly support a safe and wide bike path to allow for inexpensive and unencumbered transportation for those that would benefit from it.  

What city do you look to as a model for safe streets and courteous road users? 

In Connecticut, I frequented a paved trail in the North-Eastern part of the state.  The trail stretched through various towns and cities although Simsbury, CT had the distinction of being the safest.  Simsbury earned the reputation as a leader in Bicycle Friendly Community work in the state. Since 2010, Simsbury has made major bike-friendly infrastructure enhancements to roads, trails, and expanded bike education and encouragement programs.  In 2014, Simsbury became the first Connecticut community to earn a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. I will forever remember that Simsbury drivers always stopped to allow me to cross a road.  

In 15 years, what does this region look like? 

The world rankings of the most bike-friendly cities are topped by two European locations although Portland and Boulder are both in the top five.  In preparation for my relocation to Central Florida, I researched what the cycling community was like.  I was saddened to learn of the distinction of the area being the worst for pedestrians and cyclists alike.  As this region moves quickly to bring advances in public transportation (high-speed rail), I predict that the same energy will be harnessed to eradicate the distinction of being the worst.  

How many times did you ride your bicycle in the past year? 

When I relocated from Connecticut a short two years ago, we chose to live in a community near a paved bike trail.  My goal is to ride at least 100 safe miles each month.  I recently celebrated a milestone birthday and, on that day, I matched the miles I rode to that of my age.  Let’s just say that it was a long day on the saddle.