Walkable West Palm Beach


Shore to Core Wellness Survey needs volunteers

Shore to Core, a CRA funded initiative, needs volunteers for its Shore to Core Wellness Study next week. I hope you’ll join me and other volunteers in helping to better understand how public space impacts wellbeing. See below for details and to signup to volunteer.

Shore to Core asks: How can we recreate an urban core so its design is intelligent, flexible, and responsive to the needs of residents and visitors? Many aspects of our lives are shaped by the environments in which we spend our time, and by developing a better understanding of these relationships, we can use design to improve wellbeing in cities.

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Community Forum: Safe and Complete Streets for West Palm Beach

Tuesday, July 19th at 6 pm, the FAU Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES) and the City of West Palm Beach will be hosting a forum to discuss the topic of complete streets in West Palm Beach. I’ll be one of the guest speakers and the agenda includes a number of leaders in the realm of Complete Streets design, implementation, and advocacy. Special thanks to John Renne of CUES for organizing this event.

Hope to see some of you there Tuesday. The forum location is the Flagler Gallery of City Hall, 401 Clematis Street. Flyer embedded below and downloadable here.Safe and Complete Streets in WPB Flyer (2)

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A Call to Action on Promoting Walking and Walkable Communities on September 9th

Reposting this letter from the CDC’s Associate Director of Program Development Chris Kochtitzky:


I wanted to let you know about an upcoming report from the Office of the Surgeon General due to be released next week. Surgeon General Murthy will be launching a Call to Action on Promoting Walking and Walkable Communities on September 9th  at 10:00 a.m. ET.  Details about how to watch the Webcast will be available on the Surgeon General’s website (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov) on the morning of September 9th. If you could help us get the word out about the launch webcast to your colleagues and students via social media, listservs, etc. we would greatly appreciate it.

The Call to Action will highlight the significant health burden that exists in the U.S. today due to physical inactivity – contributing to more than 10% of the preventable mortality in America today. More specifically, it will make recommendations to a number of key sectors about critical actions they can take to improve community walkability and increase walking throughout the U.S..

I thought that – because of potential synergies between the Call to Action and priorities within your own organization – you, your colleagues, and your students might be interested in watching the launch and finding out more about the Call and ways that you all might help address this increasing health threat.

For more information about the larger effort, you can visit the Surgeon General’s website at:http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/active-living or you can visit the website of the coalition that is forming to collaborate on efforts to increase walking and walkability at: EveryBody Walk Collaborative! (http://everybodywalk.org/). In addition you can contact Kate Kraft, the National Coalition Director, at kkraft@americawalks.org for more information.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give us in getting the word out about the Call to Action, in general, and the opportunity to watch the launch ceremony on the 9th, in particular.
Chris Kochtitzky, MSP
Associate Director for Program Development
CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health
Check out CDC’s Healthy Places Website: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces
HT to Beth Dowdle


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South Florida cities should unbundle free parking benefits

After calling out the City of Fort Lauderdale StreetsSmart: 2015 Transportation Summit for ignoring non-vehicular transportation modes, the City has updated its website to reflect alternative transportation options. Kudos to the City for making the change.City_of_Fort_Lauderdale__FL___Transportation_Summit

While this is a positive development, we have a long way to go in our understanding, appreciation, and normalization of non-vehicular modes of travel in South Florida. The terminology itself indicates how far we have to go: “Alternative” transportation options presumes the primary transportation option is the car. While that may be true in terms of percentage use, in our language we need to be very cognizant of respecting all modes equally.

The event is still giving free parking to all attendees, which subsidizes the driver while leaving the Tri-Rail user or the bus rider out of luck. This is the wrong market signal to send and the leadership to change this condition has to come from the top levels of government. Just adding a subsidy for users who take public transportation would punish the person walking or biking. From a policy standpoint, I’d much prefer we just eliminate any transportation subsidies for these events altogether (“unbundling”) and let people make rational choices for themselves.

I would hope this topic is discussed during the Summit. It’s not Fort Lauderdale’s fault so much as a shift in thinking that needs to happen in our region. Unbundling free parking benefits is one such “Shoupian” tactic that can and should be implemented by local governments throughout South Florida to lead by example.

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Transportation Summit or Driving Summit?

The City of Fort Lauderdale recently announced the 2015 Transportation Summit, and it sounds like a very worthwhile event with a great lineup of speakers. Here’s the event description:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 | 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Broward Center for the Performing Arts | Huizenga Pavilion
201 SW 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale 33312
The StreetSmarts 2015 Transportation Summit is a regional event focused
on creating safe, livable, connected, sustainable streets for people of all
ages and abilities. Join us and collaborate with elected officials, regional
experts, and industry leaders to exchange best practices, share innovative
ideas, and achieve our common vision of transforming Fort Lauderdale
into the city you never want to leave.

Looking on the City website, though, I was disappointed to see the lack of consideration given to other modes of transportation to the conference. It’s a Transportation Summit, after all, not a Driving Summit. Free parking is included with every attendee registration. There is also a nice link on the website to “Parking” but nothing about alternate modes such as Tri-Rail.

2015-04-23 14_32_04-City of Fort Lauderdale, FL _ Transportation Summit

You might be thinking this post is much ado about nothing. “Big deal; this is South Florida! Everyone drives everywhere here!”

And that’s exactly the point. We are so dependent on our cars to get around in South Florida that even an event called “Transportation Summit” presumes that all attendees will arrive in an automobile. And we make arriving in a car the obvious, rational choice because it’s free! Sounds like the first item on the agenda of this meeting should be to have all attendees review Professor Shoup’s book “The High Cost of Free Parking”.

Now suppose someone overcame the subsidized free parking arrangement and wanted to take Tri-Rail to the meeting, at their own expense, even though free parking is included in their registration. It’s doable. The Broward Center is only 1.8 miles away from the nearest Tri-Rail station, and there are a few decent bus options (#22, 60, 81 on Google Maps). Unfortunately and inexplicably, Broward B-Cycle does not have a bikeshare station at one of the most heavily trafficked Tri-Rail stations. From downtown West Palm Beach, I absolutely loathe driving south and this would be an easy choice for Tri-Rail, even if it meant getting an Uber for the last 1.8 mile of the journey rather than the bus.

The journey from the Broward Tri Rail station to the final destination

The journey from the Broward Tri Rail station to the final destination

No bikeshare station at the Broward Tri-Rail stop!

No bikeshare station at the Broward Tri-Rail stop!

Google Maps calculates the total trip, one way, at a little over $7 if the bus is used. So you’re looking at a total cost in the range of $15 – 25 depending on whether you take Uber or a bus for the final 1.8 miles. Driving costs $51 using the IRS cost to operate a vehicle for 2015 (gas + wear and tear on a car) which the IRS estimates at 57.5 cents per mile.. Let’s be conservative and assume a more efficient car is driven; the cost is likely to be in the $35 range. On top of that, you must pay for parking. Easy win for Tri-Rail.

Unless, of course, parking has been paid for you. Then it makes you that much more likely to choose to drive instead of take transit.

For all the talk of safety and getting people out of their cars, we are still operating under the assumption that everyone will drive, and this mentality leads to disconnects in our policy such as this. If you’re like most municipal employees commuting into the city, getting free parking at a taxpayer funded municipal parking structure, you’re likely to assume everyone else does the same. And if you are tasked with setting up a Transportation Summit, that means Driving Summit. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

This issue may sound trivial, but it’s indicative of a broader driver entitlement culture that needs to change.

So what’s the answer?

We can start to change at the government level through leading by example. Get out of your car and actually experience transit for yourself so you can understand it. The MPO is to be commended for having board members actually ride transit throughout the County last year:

The answer is not to expand subsidies to transit and car parking, because it would have the perverse effect of penalizing the person who bikes or walks to the final destination. The simplest and best policy shift is to remove parking and transportation subsidies altogether from events such as this, and more broadly, to decouple transportation subsidies from employment and living arrangements.

The sooner it happens, the quicker we can realize safer streets and more livable communities for all.

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Not to be missed: “The Wealth of Cities” in Delray Beach with Chuck Marohn, Joe Minicozzi, and John Norquist

Chuck Marohn, Founder of Strong Towns.

Joe Minicozzi, Principal at Urban3 and former West Palm Beach urban designer (1998-2003).

John Norquist, Past President of the Congress for the New Urbanism, former Mayor of Milwaukee, now affiliated with FAU.

I cannot imagine a stronger lineup of speakers to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our cities. Chuck and Joe are two of the biggest influences on my thinking about cities and development, and John Norquist has had a tremendous influence as past president of The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).

I’m a proud CNU member as well as an Enthusiast and regular content contributor to Strong Towns. Just about everything that is done on this blog is informed and educated by the groundwork laid by these organizations and these individuals.

Don’t miss this one folks!!


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Meeting reminder: South Dixie Corridor Design Workshop – Saturday March 28th

south dixie meeting