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Ten Creative Ideas for Energizing Our Streets

 

We all know that walking has many advantages over driving—it costs less, it burns more calories, and we get to see the world in a way that is much less rushed, properly taking in our surroundings. Those surroundings, however, could in many places need a bit of a makeover. Retail establishments put a lot of thought and money into making their space a desirable place to visit. Our research has found that reducing vehicle travel by just one mile per day, per person in the 50 largest metros in the U.S. could lead to over $31 billion in generated savings—so why wouldn’t our communities work to make our streets a more desirable place to walk? Here are ten creative placemaking ideas to inspire our streets...

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Lee Fisher on Meeting of the Minds

Lee Fisher, President and CEO of CEOs for Cities, was recently interviewed about the upcoming Meeting of the Minds event.  On October 9-11, Lee will join global leaders to convene in San Francisco for Meeting of the Minds.  The Meeting is a premier leadership summit focused on the innovations that leaders in the built environment, infrastructure, transport, architecture, planning, finance and other key areas can use to grow sustainable cities. For two days, participants from across all sectors — public, NGO, and private — engage in lively discussions focused on “connecting the dots” linking buildings, energy and water resources, mobility, and finance.

The following is taken from Lee's interview with Meeting the Minds.  Please visit Meet the Minds to see interviews with other global leaders who are attending the conference.

Tell us a little bit about your role in your company/organization.

I’m the President and CEO of CEOs for Cities, a national network of civic CEOs and urban leaders advancing the next generation of great American cities. Prior to this, I served as Ohio Lt. Governor, Ohio Attorney General, and Director of the Ohio Department of Economic Development. We were founded 12…

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Walkable Neighborhoods in Demand

For many Americans, walkability plays a key role when choosing a community. An article in the New York Times discusses the rising prevalence of infrastructure for walking and biking in Long Island communities. The Long Island area’s push for greater livability is just a portion of the state of New York’s initiative to make roads safer and more accessible for walking and biking. In August, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signed “Complete Streets,” a legislation to increase the accessibility of communities. City planners and government officials are not the only people prioritizing livable communities; walkability is an increasingly large priority for homebuyers. The article uses CEOs for Cities’ Walking the Walk to quantify the effect that the increased demand for walkable communities has on home prices: “homes within a walkable mile of ‘common daily shopping and social destinations’ command from $4,000 to $34,000 more than similar homes in more car-centric communities.” The popularity of walkable communities with mixed-use downtown areas indicates that “the pendulum is swinging away from malls and toward walkable village centers.” 

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Tampa Increases Walkability through Waterfront Trail

At the CEOs for Cities Connectivity Challenge, urban leaders discussed creating urban spaces that maximize walkability. In Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn is doing just that. He is currently working to complete a 2.6 mile walking trail to connect downtown Tampa to the Channel District without any detours. According to an article in the Tampa Tribune, fundraising efforts are underway. Tampa is making completing the trail, which will showcase the waterfront, an important priority.

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American Public Prioritizes Accessibility and Livability

In Walking the Walk, data analyzed by CEOs for Cities found that walkability increases home values. An article in Greater Greater Washington discusses new evidence that confirms CEOs for Cities' findings that walkable, transit served communities are in great demand. According to a recent nationwide survey, 47% of Americans would like to live in a downtown area with walkable amenities and 59% of Americans would prefer to live in a smaller house with a shorter commute than a larger house with a longer commute. The study found that a preference for compact, urban areas was a widespread trend; a broad range of age groups is increasingly seeking housing in communities created around choice and accessibility. The importance of creating livable communities should be an important priority for areas throughout the country.

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Transportation is a Public Health Issue

The U.S. Department of Transportation to trying to tackle the goal ending childhood obesity with transportation policy reforms. DOT hosted a conference last week called “Keeping Kids Moving” to examine how equitable transportation policy can prevent childhood obesity.

At the conference, DOT Undersecretary Roy Kienitz talked about how transportation decisions that value things like "vehicle throughput" instead of pedestrian safety affect America's communities. And about how transit decisions that emphasize "minutes-saved" pit outlying suburban commuters against their inner-lying urban neighbors. Recognizing that those policies have had an effect on public health, he said, "Transportation is about more than engineering."

At CEOs for Cities, we are happy to see that DOT is funding the kinds of projects that will help develop livable communities and provide opportunities for people to walk, bike, or take transit.

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When Does a Bike Lane Become an Economic Stimulus?

When it's part of an alternative transportation system that puts $19 billion into New York City's economy each year.

In time for Earth Day, the New York City Department of Transportation released New York City's Green Dividend, a report by CEOs for Cities that, for the first time, aggregates the economic value of walking, biking and transit to the New York City economy.

New Yorkers would spend $19 billion more per year on auto-related expenses if, on average, they drove as much and owned as many cars as residents of other large U.S. cities. They would own a staggering 4.5 million additional cars (requiring a parking lot the size of Manhattan to hold them!), consume 2.4 billion more gallons of gas and produce 23 million more tons of carbon emissions every year.

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the report at our Strategy Session this week in New York, calling it "a sustainable economic model that we can't take for granted" and a reminder of "what we stand to lose if we don't keep up our investment."

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New York City’s $19B Green Dividend

When does a bike lane become an economic stimulus?  When it's part of an alternative transportation system that puts $19 billion into New York City's economy each year.

Because New Yorkers drive substantially less than the average American, they realize a staggering $19 billion in savings each year ? money that their counterparts in other large U.S. metro areas spend on auto-related expenses. This is the principal finding of New York City?s Green Dividend, a report by CEOs for Cities for the New York City Department of Transportation released on Earth Day 2010.

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3 Forces of Change for Cities to Harness

Our collegue Kim Walesh, Chief Strategist for the City of San Jose, highlighted three key forces of change that the city should aim to harness in a presentation to the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce recently.

The three forces, summarized in this recap in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, are:

  • “The battle for talent will escalate, with young professionals age 20 to 24 being the key to prosperity. They're highly educated, mobile and at the entrepreneurial stage of life. Where they live is a higher priority than what they do for a living, unlike baby boomers, who accepted the ‘I've been moved’ way of life. Immigrants are essential for work force growth; more than half the founders of Silicon Valley tech companies are foreign-born. Only 33 percent of households have children now; that number will drop to 27 percent by 2030.
  • “To compete globally, cities must have educated workers. By 2025, two of every five jobs will require a college degree. California is unprepared, and there's a 40 percent gap in earnings between college graduates and non-graduates. Right-brain thinking, the creativity developed by the arts, will be necessary to succeed.
    If the work force…

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Street Corners vs Cul de Sacs

Delighted to see New York Times reporter Damon Darlin bringing attention to our work on "Walking the Walk" and "Driven to the Brink."  Given the plunge in real estate prices the U.S. experienced last year along with the foreclosure crisis, the twin studies provide valuable insight on how to hold on to real estate values (and the taxes they produce).  Hint: Good urbanism -- strong core cities and mixed-use neighborhoods -- works.

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