Thursday, October 11, 2012

Complete Streets Survey

For many years Pensacola has been working to accommodate a variety of modes of transportation on city streets. Sidewalks and bike lanes can be seen sporadically throughout the city.

The city now is focusing on creating a bicycle and pedestrian network throughout the city. Such a network would connect neighborhoods to employment centers and other amenities. In our effort to design the network and target improvements, we are looking for citizen input.

A survey is posted online at Please provide us with your thoughts and ideas. Do keep in mind that the focus of this effort is not streets within neighborhoods but rather connections between neighborhoods.

The results of the survey will be forwarded to the City Council's Complete Streets Ad-Hoc Committee. The committee will compile the input and create a map and listing of necessary improvements. The improvements will be ranked based on certain criteria, such as proximity to schools, public interest, and low cost. The plan will then be forwarded to the city council for adoption. The intent is that each year the city will allocate funds (whether from standard coffers or, preferably, from grant revenue specifically for these types of improvements) and within a few years we will have a city that it markedly more friendly to bicycles and pedestrians.

Please share the survey with others--the more input we receive, the better our results will be.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Walking, Biking, and Good Government

When I ran for City Council, increasing the infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians was one of my priorities. I have biked many neighborhoods in this city—as a teen riding through Scenic Heights to piano lessons, as a young mom biking my daughter to school in East Hill, as a councilwoman biking to Woodland Heights to meet with constituents. I also have walked all over, including knocking on doors on every street in the city.

Progressive cities throughout this country provide transportation alternatives for residents. And the kinds of workers we hope to attract look for alternatives. Residents and visitors alike benefit. I have researched many systems and believe that, by incorporating complete streets into our transportation planning, we can become a better community.

Last winter a group of citizens came to the council and asked us to consider complete streets as one of several policies. I watched happily as the council, almost to a person, voiced support. I had had conversations with the mayor previously, and I knew he cared about this issue, too. So I decided that it was time to act.

There were some glitches, but last council week the administration finally brought us a resolution in support of complete streets. But the council decided that that didn’t go far enough and created a committee to come up with a complete streets network plan. We are gearing up for our first meeting and hope that many citizens will show up to help us take the first steps in this process.

So what do bikes have to do with the charter? While multi-modal transportation is a passion of mine, good government is even more important. In our transition to the new charter, much energy has been devoted to defining the role of the mayor. But often overlooked is the change in the role of the council. The council is the “governing body of the City with all legislative powers of the City vested therein,” often interpreted as the policy making body.

What the Council has yet to tackle is how it sets policy. So far, most of our actions have been approval, modification, or rejection of recommendations from the mayor. If the council is going to carry out its responsibilities under this new charter, it must have a process by which it creates policy.

Our new government is like the Congress and President or the State Legislature and Governor. The Congress/Legislature sets policy by holding hearings (usually in committee) and researching an issue. Then the body will vote to approve the new policy, usually a resolution or law/ ordinance, and send it to the President/Governor for approval and execution. This structure can inform the council on how to carry out its role as well.

I am glad that we are using Complete Streets as the test case for the council to create a system for setting policy independent from the administration (though with their assistance, much like a Secretary of State would testify before Congress). There is consent among the council to support the idea, the mayor seems supportive, and many citizens are excited by the idea as well. I hope everyone will work together to make this a successful effort.

Please plan on participating in the Complete Streets Committee process so we can set the most informed policy for this city. And so that it can be a model for how the council can work with the citizens to carry out its role under this new charter. Look for an announcement of the first committee meeting soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Opportunities to serve

Recently I emailed many of you asking if you would be interested in serving on the City Council's Audit Selection Committee. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of you who replied with a willingness to serve. So I am going to take my chances again....

The City Council is looking to appoint people to many different boards. In all cases, the nominations are due by June 1. If you are interested in any of these boards, please let me know, and I will consider nominating you.

Environmental Advisory Board:
  The council is looking for one at-large member and one member who is an employee of a Federal, State, or local environmental agency. City residency is preferred.

Gateway Review Board:
  The council is looking for nominations for all positions on this board. Three property owners within the district, and an at-large member, an architect, a landscape architect, and an engineering or building contractor, all of whom should not own property in the district.

Parks and Recreation Board:
  The council is in need of two members for this board.

West Florida Public Library Board:
  The council is in need of a city resident to serve on this board.

I look forward to nominating candidates for each of these boards. Please let me know if any of these are of interest.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bay Bridge Comments

The state has determined that the Pensacola Bay Bridge needs to be replaced. It is several years off, but they are starting the planning now. They are requesting comments from the public on any priorities that should be considered. Anyone with suggestions should access the Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Web site. On that site, you can search for the bay bridge project, and there is a link for submitting comments.

Examples of the topics that some people have commented on include:
  • Bike lanes
  • Sidewalks
  • Break down lanes
  • Toll lanes/HOV lanes
  • 6 lanes, 8 lanes, 4 lanes
  • West side landing, east side landing
  • Pretty lights
  • Road Rangers Services
Please share your opinions on the proposed project so that we can try and make it a bridge that will meet the community's needs for many years to come.