Sunday, March 30, 2014

SunRail--Almost Ready

Crews were finishing the SunRail platforms at the Winter Park station weeks before passenger service begins.  

In only a month, Central Florida's commuter rail system, SunRail, begins a "soft opening," with free rides offered for two weeks beginning May 1.

The Winter Park station is particularly well-done. The northbound platform integrates seamlessly into Central Park.

SunRail northbound platform--integrated nicely into Central Park.
Soon enough, we'll know how many people will ride SunRail despite the ridiculous half-hour headways between trains, the two hour headways mid-day, and lack of night and weekend service.  Link to the schedule HERE.  If I have a hearing downtown that ends at 10:00 AM, I won't wait for a train at 11:15 AM to return to Winter Park.

SunRail needs 15 minute headways during peak hours, half-hour headways during non-peak hours, service until midnight and on weekends, as well as a connection on the OUC tracks to Orlando International Airport to become convenient mass transit.

SunRail test run along the Orlando Urban Trail.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Keep Partisan Politics Out of Local Government

Local government should not be about partisan politics.  As others have said, there isn't a Democratic or Republican way to fill a pothole.  Frank Torres posted a thoughtful analysis of how injecting partisan politics into the Orange County Mayoral race could backfire on the challenger, Ms. Demings, at this LINK.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Victor Dover at Rollins College: Raise the Bar on "Complete Streets"

Victor Dover lecturing on Street Design, the title of his new book, co-authored with architect John Massengale.
Veteran planner Victor Dover, whose redesign of Park Avenue in Winter Park in the late 1990’s made it one of Florida's greatest streets, lectured to about 150 students and visitors at Rollins College last night.  One reoccurring  theme was to "raise the bar on 'complete streets,'” the widely used term for streets designed for all users, whether motorists, pedestrians, or bicyclists. 

“A street is not complete unless it’s beautiful,” Dover insisted.

A case in point was the Okemos, Michigan roundabout, an over-engineered span of asphalt conveying a message of car space and not people space.  (Michael Wallwork, the engineer who originally designed the Okemos roundabout, told me that the City retained a subsequent engineer, who “blew-up” his design by adding unnecessary lanes and increasing the design speed.)  The Okemos--like the Horizon West roundabouts--was not properly engineered to target entry, circulating, and exit speeds to below 20 miles per hour--essential for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. 

“If we’re going to design a circle, make it a people place,” Dover suggested, showing a slide of the Seven Dials in London, England. 

Dover noted that he is ending New Urbanists' unofficial moratorium on showing images from Europe.  

Dover was promoting his new book, Street Design, co-authored with John Massengale.  He said they inserted voluminous, color photographs so that “an elected official can ask, why can’t we have a street like that?”  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott--A Welcome Turnaround

 Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) last week released the following proclamation for "Florida Bicycle Month":

Click to enlarge
Who'd have thought we'd see words like these from Governor Scott a year ago, when he was vetoing the Coast-to-Coast Trail?  The Governor's 2014 Budget contains tens of millions for advancing the project.   His  proclamation speaks of the Florida Department of Transportation elevating protection of vulnerable road users to "critical priority" status.  It's a very welcome turnaround.