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Rethinking Streets by Rick Hall, P.E.

The transportation recommendations of the Coral Gables Charrette aim primarily at the reduction of automobile use by increasing transit use and pedestrian mobility.

The grid of local streets in Downtown and the North Ponce neighborhood is an ideal design foun- dation for a walkable city. Residents of these areas are within easy walking distance of the work- place, shops, restaurants and cultural activities. Workers and shoppers arriving in Downtown have multiple destinations and parking facilities from which to choose. And soon there will be a trolley to facilitate access across longer distances in the city's core, making it a truly park-once environ- ment. However, the streets and sidewalks that serve the pedestrian have an unfriendly ambience due to the priority they give to vehicles.

Walkability is a critical feature in the continued vitality of Coral Gables, and not only because it addresses the growing problems of gridlock and parking in Downtown and North Ponce. Walkability in Coral Gables is important for the following reasons:

1. Every vehicular or transit trip begins and ends with a walking trip. When travelers can com- fortably walk to a transit stop, ride for more than a comfortable walking distance (over a mile) and walk comfortably at the other end, then transit can be successful. Transit success depends on comfortable walkability through well-designed urbanism. Unpleasant surroundings for walking will frustrate the most dedicated pedestrian. Similarly, multiple parking stops can be exchanged for park-once trips in a walkable urban area.

2. The compact scale of pedestrian movement, with its corollary reduced parking needs, con- tributes greatly to the efficiency and character of urban places. Destination walkers (as opposed to recreation walkers) encourage vital, successful, mixed use environments that enhance commu- nity charm in ways an auto dominant system can never hope for.

3. The opportunity for productive social exchange is greatly enhanced in pedestrian friendly areas. By walking daily, one gets to know a spectrum of neighbors and fellow citizens, and the bonds of community are strengthened.

4. The most enjoyable cities for both their residents and visitors are walkable. There is a grow- ing urban population that desires a walkable town or city environment where accessibility of des- tinations and varied experiences on foot are possible. The dynamic businesses of our time have recognized this and seek to locate in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Boston, Pasadena and Santa Barbara.


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