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Emily Bush, AICP, CPM, Executive Director

Emily Bush is the Executive Director of Bike/Walk Central Florida, a bicycling and pedestrian advocacy group that promotes safe and active modes of transportation for a healthy community. Before her role at Bike/Walk Central Florida, Bush was the Development Services Manager at the City of Casselberry, where she was instrumental in updating the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations focused around health and active transportation. Hanna currently services on many boards and advisory roles. She won the 40 under 40 award in 2019 from the Orlando Business Journal for her efforts in improving communities around Central Florida, specifically Casselberry.

How will bicycles save the world?
I love this question! There are many ways in which a bicycle can save the world. First, riding a bicycle helps save the environment. Unlike cars, bicycles have no carbon emissions. Bike riders are reducing their carbon footprint and helping to fight climate change. Second, bicycling is a great form of physical activity. Obesity is a growing problem in the U.S., and active transportation gets you outside, burns calories and helps increase your heart rate–all actions that are known to fight chronic illness and help people live longer. Third, bicycling will save the world because it is a more economic form of transportation than driving a car. Money that would otherwise be spent on gas, insurance and car payments, stays in the pockets of bicyclists. This allows them to spend their money on their community, rather than on their vehicle, supporting local businesses and charities.

What is the most notable achievement toward safer streets in Central Florida?
For the first time we are seeing local public works departments partnering with their law enforcement agencies to look at infrastructure and safety countermeasures that will help reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. Planners are understanding that transportation has a big impact on land uses. Engineers are realizing they are not just sending cars through a road, they are sending cars through a community, full of  businesses, people, parks, etc. Conversations are occurring about how to work together, which is the biggest hurdle, in my opinion! I can’t wait for Bike/Walk Central Florida to continue promoting these conversations and pushing the needle for safer more complete streets for ALL users!

What city do you look to as a model for safe streets and courteous road users?
I’m biased of course but I think the City of Casselberry is doing an excellent job normalizing bike riding and wide sidewalks in their community. They have sharrows on their neighborhood streets. They have wide sidewalks and trail connections that lead to parks. Most importantly, they have a Commission, City Manager, and staff (hats off to their City Engineer) that get it. They know all the benefits of having people walk and bike in their community. They also get the fiscal benefits. Fewer cars equals less parking needed– which means there’s more buildable area. This, in turn, increases property taxes (bigger building = bigger tax). More people walking and biking means more people using their disposable income on goods and services in the community (instead of paying for gas, car repairs and insurance). More people walking and biking means they are more healthy, and therefore, spend less on services like EMT (ambulances), fire, and police. More people walking and biking means less roadway maintenance which means spending fewer tax dollars on streets. Sidewalks and bike lanes are much cheaper than building new roads, and they get that. In 2019, the City of Casselberry made a commitment to be the most “walkable, bikeable, and rollable city in Central Florida by 2040”! If all cities thought about this like Casselberry does, we will be in a much better place in 10-15 years!