Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Walkable Schools" Presentation to the Orange County School Board

Planner and Central Florida Congress for New Urbanism coordinator Eliza Harris, transportation designer Jurgen Duncan, and I appeared before the Orange County School Board on April 27, and presented, "Walkable Schools: How Smart Growth Principles Can Help School Districts and Kids." 

To view the presentation, please CLICK HERE.

Gotha Middle School students crossing high speed traffic on Old Winter Garden Road.  The lanes are 12 ft.--as wide as those on an interstate highway.  

Children walking to Celebration Elementary School, built into the urban fabric. The narrow lanes, the bulb-out to reduce the pedestrian crossing distance, and on-street parking reduce speeds to safer levels. Windows on the rowhouses and on the school places "eyes on the street," and deter crime.

After the presentation, I sent the following email to the Orange County School Board:

Dear Chairman Cadle, Vice Chairman Flynn, and Board Members:

Jurgen Duncan, Eliza Harris, and I so much appreciated the opportunity to address you yesterday on the important issue of walkable schools. The analysis we shared demonstrated that walkable schools tend to reduce bus eligibility and associated OCPS transportation costs. We were delighted to hear of your strong support for, and efforts to achieve walkable schools within neighborhoods.

Chairman Cadle raised an important concern about societal attitudes. You may not know of an impressive group of Colonial High School students working to change them.

You may find instructive a Smart Growth "Report Card" at:

OCPS planners and others can download the new Walkable Thoroughfares manual from the Institute of Transportation Engineers' website without charge at:

Congress for New Urbanism chapter members have a breadth of expertise to share. I certainly have learned much from them. Please advise if we can assist you in any manner on these issues. Your advocacy for pedestrian-friendly street design and appropriate school sites can play a crucial role with local governments in improving the health and safety of our children.

Thank you again,

Rick Geller
Olympia High School--disconnected from the adjacent residential neighborhoods and on a four-lane arterial road.  The 1960's-era suburban layout requires virtually everyone to drive to the school, resulting in a parking lot consuming about as much land as the buildings, at enormous cost to taxpayers.