Transit and Walkability

Transportation shapes our cities—it has always been so. Transportation determines land use — from the ability to walk or bike to the need for freeways to many other options that make a place either livable or headache producing. One type of development that is meeting enormous enthusiasm in metropolitan areas across the U.S.A. is walkable communities that minimize the need to use a car for every trip and provide healthy options such as walking, biking, and convenient transit for some trips.

Transit choices are numerous: express buses, trolleys, bus rapid transit, streetcars, light rail, and commuter rail to name only some. Transit stops must be planned so that each one is either a short walkable route to popular destinations, a transfer point, or has parking for cars. Where in Lee County could benefit from development of transit-oriented walkable communities where people can live, work, and find crucial services and entertainment without traveling great distances?

Mixed use walkable neighborhoods served by convenient public transportation are sometimes called “Transit-oriented Developments” (TOD).  Visit the State of Florida’s new website on transit-oriented development:  http://www.floridatod.com/

Check out the following link to see a good example that illustrates the Florida Department of Transportation’s mindset and cooperative effort towards achieving multi-modal mixed-use development. The project featured Park and Ride Facilities, sky-bridge to the adjacent Tri-Rail Station and Bus Transfer Station onsite. The mixed-use components included internet switching facilities, office building, hotel and retail. Also, the site has immediate access to I-95, thus the rationale for the Park and Ride Facility and link to the Tri-Rail Station. The land for the site is owned by FDOT and Swerdlow entered into a long term lease on the site. Also, due west of the site is Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and Cypress Creek Corporate Park, which is an example of good land use planning that created the critical mass to support the multi-modal mixed-use site.  http://www.swerdlow.com/cypress_intro.html

Conventional notions about roadway safety are challenged in this recent article. The traffic environments of dense urban areas appear to be safer than the suburbs; fewer miles are driven and driving is done is at lower speeds. Also, less-“forgiving” design treatments—narrow lanes, traffic-calming measures, and street trees close to the roadway—that are common in dense urban areas appear safer than modern suburban roadway road designs. Read: “The Built Environment and Traffic Safety – A Review of Empirical Evidence” by Reid Ewing (University of Maryland) and Eric Dumbaugh (Texas A&M).

Reconnecting Lee County had an interesting dialogue with representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation on the subject of light rail opportunities in Lee County.  Here is a brief summary of our session.

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