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Agenda for a Walkable/Livable Community - One Day Course

Instructor:      Dan Burden, Dburden@aol.com         Instruction Time 6:35

8:00 Registration
8:20 Introductions, acknowledgements and logistics
8:30 Startup of course
12:00 Lunch
4:30 End of Session

Overview  --    Want to know what you are getting into?  This highly visual, information rich course addresses the remaking of towns from auto congested, angry and uncivil space into peaceful, economical successful, viable village centers, neighborhoods, towns and regions. The presentation illustrates dozens of successful towns and cities of all sizes It shows how they changed their town planning, roadway design and funding decisions from reactive to proactive, achieving livability and financial success. Instead of chasing congestion, towns like Toronto, Vancouver, Miami Beach, Ft Lauderdale, Ft Collins, Seattle, Palo Alto, Sacramento, Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, East Lansing and Corvallis are absorbing and converting auto trips, focusing on place making rather than better ways to store cars in long queues and parking lots.

A sense of place, individual town character, civic pride, respect for government, trust and a celebration of the civil servant are end results of  focus on public process,  and older traditional street and town making principles.  This presentation validates the ideas, knowledge, values and beliefs of each audience.   The presentation kicks hard at the shin of antiquated ways of believing and behaving. It confirms and focuses on important versus meaningless uses of a decision makers' or citizens' time and money. 

The presentation is technically rich, balanced with philosophy, passion and reverence for basic town and street making principles. The course confirms instinctive, common sense notions held by community leaders. The course bridges the gap between lay person and professional. The course points out how specialization, agency dynasties, NIMBYism, public hearings and arrogance leave scars, scary places, fumes, noise, dead bodies and unruly behavior among streets, public plazas, buildings and the populace.

The course shouts at us – GROW UP. The course challenges us, during our most prosperous years, to quit whining and start working.  It alerts us that our Mr. Gumby behavior, whether we sit on a planning commission, city council, county commission, chamber of commerce, school board or serve as a  lead official, whittles our towns into nothingness.

The course plays well in small places like Crested Butte, or Grand Junction, Colorado, mid-sized towns, such as Kirkland, Bellevue and Redmond, Washington, as well as large metropolitan centers such as Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Dallas.  Most important, the course offers case studies, solutions, numbers, visions, hope, direction, contacts and sound methods for  rebuilding towns and place. 

In three years this course has successfully motivated men and women in 640 communities in more than 40 states, three Canadian provinces and other international markets. Engineers, planners, architects, landscape architects, developers, politicians, citizen advocates, ADA specialists, retailers, neighborhood leaders, administrators and environmentalists each embrace the principles and content of the message. Although first developed in growth driven Florida, the course has picked up and assimilated ideas, concepts and issues at the center of smart growth, sustainable land use, as well as transportation, bicycling, transit and related community hot buttons. The course today is America's course – it highlights modern and progressive paths walked by principled and courageous people clear on their values and goals. The course celebrates and defines the role of each profession, and each team member. Town freighter after town freighter America is re-orienting and steering their vessels toward a common national vision of place making and lively places of exchange.

 This is a course worthy of all people who believe it is time to rebuild America, neighborhood by neighborhood.  It is a course for those who wish to return cities to their original greatness through hard, disciplined, inspired, team driven work. This course celebrates men and women who are performing Herculean efforts to build fun, responsible, socially and financially responsible public works and private projects.


Part 1     Defining a Walkable/Livable Community. Basic elements and building blocks.  New ways to measure success. Cities, neighborhoods, commercial districts and special places -- social and civil behavior. Contrast between traditional and conventional patterns of development. Social, environmental and health impacts of conventional sprawl. Sprawl and conventional dysfunction costs to our neighborhoods, lifestyles, property values, commerce. Effects of sprawl on children, elders and disabled people. The importance of parks, public space, and other places for association.   The five building blocks of a successful community. The urban village as the solution to new and old neighborhoods -- small, connected and mixed.

Part II    The Building Blocks --Neighborhoods, Parks, Housing, Villages, Placemaking.   Saving the Strip. The role of mixed use, mixed income, affordable housing and density. Converting sprawl to real place. Placemaking. The elements of a successful strip street conversion. Three stages of converting dead and decaying strips into lively urban village centers.

Part III Guide to Building Healthy Streets.  The street pattern, conventional vs traditional streets. How our street designs became unhealthy. The designer's role to define and set appropriate speeds and behavior. Tools for altering behavior. The role of trees, trails, alleys, lanes, streets, avenues, boulevards and parkways. Road Diets and other successful street conversions. Reducing the number of lanes while improving efficiency, capacity and safety. Setting the right dimensions, handling fire, bicycle and pedestrian access, increasing resident safety. The design vehicle, proper curb radii and centerline radii. Meeting the needs of fire, sanitation, maintenance vehicles.


Part IV-A  Engineering and Reinventing Intersections -- Geometrics.  The building blocks of successful intersections. Finding the right design for a neighborhood or downtown. The use of conventional designs, tee-intersections and roundabouts.   Keeping the traffic in motion at conflict points using new sets of tools.  The role of medians, channelization, curb radii, curb extensions, bus pullouts. Other geometric issues.

Part IV-B  Engineering and Reinventing Intersections. – Operations.  The new tools for helping pedestrians and bicyclists navigate simple and complex intersections. Crosswalks, special markings, stop bars, signal head placement, advance stop bars, signing, flashing crosswalks,  tee intersections and roundabouts.

Part V  MidBlock Crossings.  Access management, converting five lanes to four, plus median. Informal pedestrian crossings and formal crossings. The safety, efficiency and aesthetic benefits of medians and access management. The cost of medians versus scramble lanes.  Building stakeholder support for medians. Special crossing designs, half signals, the Bellevue Crossing, refuge islands and other midblock crossing designs.

Part VI  ADA Accessibility.  Meeting the real versus perceived needs of mobility and visually impaired people. Corner cuts, islands, maintenance practices, maintaining access, operations. Basic designs and advance support for neighborhoods and downtowns. Building maintenance-free ramps, cross slope, continuous passageways. Overcoming common mistakes, debunking myths.

Part VII  Traffic Calming.  What is and is not traffic calming. Common myths and mistakes. The three stages of traffic calming. Popular tools. Cost effective solutions. Vertical deflection tools, horizontal deflection, the uses of gateways, controlling speed and traffic flow through neighborhoods. Sampling the best traffic calming practices in North America. Maintenance, operations, ownership, public participation and public process.  The role of mini-circles, roundabouts and other tools to slow and control speed while improving trip times through neighborhoods.

Part VIII   Implementation and Public Process.  Gaining popular consensus, collaboration and ownership for rebuilding towns, neighborhoods and streets. Creating a vision through effective public process. Short term and long term solutions. Building model projects, overlay districts, funding choices.  Turning the public works director, traffic engineer, town planner and city council into heros. Overcoming NIMBYism, and avoiding bloodletting.  Finding the courage to face the future.


Walkable Communities Inc., 320 S. Main St, High Springs, FL   32643 (386) 454-3304
Last Updated:    June 15, 2004
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