Enhance physical infrastructure to increase economic competitiveness & growth

Physical infrastructure must support multiple goals simultaneously, optimization for: mobility, convenience through proximity, and sense of place.

For the past half-century, an overemphasis on vehicular mobility has greatly influenced the growth patterns and public infrastructure investments in Southeast Florida to its detriment. Activities have been pushed further apart from one another, resulting in unnecessarily longer travel distances. Tax dollars needed to support and maintain the roadways required have drained public coffers and cannot keep pace. The physical environment has been optimized for the car, and has consequently often become hostile for the human. The key to achieving economic competitiveness and growth include mobility to efficiently connect goods, services and people to the places where they are need- ed, but this must be balanced, however, with equally important requirements for multi-modal transportation, convenience through close proximity of uses, and creation of environments with a high sense of place.

Prosperity in the future for Southeast Florida will increase with a new mind-set, where the primary focus is on first creating desirable, well-planned community and business destinations. A sense of place may at first seem like a rather abstract requirement for economic competitiveness, but it is perhaps the most important. Creation of built environments that feel inviting, exciting, stimulating, interesting and safe will help tremendously to attract and retain the workforce and wealth that Southeast Florida needs in order to be prosperous in the coming decades.

In his book The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida explores the kind of environment sought by the burgeoning work- force that will bring energy and economic prosperity to cities in the coming decades. Here is how he summarizes the findings of his research into the kinds of environments that are attractive to the “creative class”:

“The most highly valued options were experiential ones—interesting music venues, neighborhood art galleries, performance spaces, and theaters. A vibrant, varied nightlife was viewed by many as another signal that a city “gets it,” even by those who in frequently partake in nightlife. More than anything, the creative class craves real experiences in the real world.

They favor active, participatory recreation over passive, institutionalized forms. They prefer indigenous street-level culture–a teeming blend of cafes, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between performers and spectators. They crave stimulation, not escape. They want to pack their time full of dense, high-quality, multidimensional experiences. Seldom has one of my subjects expressed a desire to get away from it all. They want to get into it all, and do it with eyes wide open.”

After first thinking about creating the quality destinations necessary to attract those who will bring future vitality , then secondary focus should then be placed on connecting these destinations to one another. Mobility should always focus on moving people, and not just cars. Emphasis should be placed on as a rich menu of transportation options as possible: pedestrian, bicycle, bus, rail, water taxi and the automobile.

Add Bike Trails

Bike trails play an important role in the overall regional bicycle network. In addition to carrying commuter work-trips, bike trails also contribute to recreational opportunities, expanding the opportunity for non-motorized activity which improves the health and quality of the region. In addition to expanding efforts to ensure bicycles can safely travel on and/or along key roads, bike trails along major thoroughfares can help advance the process of safely integrating cyclists into the larger transportation network. Bike paths can connect significant points of interest and advocate the usage of cycling as a mode of commuting and mobility. Bike paths should be maintained well, with appropriate ame- nities, ideally with sufficient shade as well as natural features. When properly designed and maintained, access to bike paths and trails can be of economic importance to neighborhoods, attracting use by bicycle commuters as well as families with children. Commuter trips can be augmented by the inclusion of appropriate workplace amenities, such as bike racks, lockers, and showers. It bears repeating, however, that full inclusion of cyclists in the traffic network is of great importance.

Connecting and Completing the Region’s Greenway and Trail Network

The success of a multi-modal transportation network will require special planning and consideration of non-motorized modes to enable mobility by all users. Each of the region’s MPO/TPOs includes a bicycle/pedestrian plan that identifies a selection of non-motorized facilities; however, a focus on the interconnection of these facilities along with other on-road and off-road greenways and trails will create a more valuable and more extensive regional network.

The Regional Greenways and Trails Plan identifies an interconnected network of trails for hiking, bicycling, equestrians, and paddling, highlighting the region’s natural beauty, rich array of park and recreational facilities, cultural and historic resources, and natural areas. In addition, this network provides on-road and off-road connections from neighborhoods to destinations for commerce, education, health, recreation, culture, and in- stitutions. By offering multi-modal connectivity with the road- way and transit network, Regional Greenways and Trails provide expanded mobility as well as unique economic advantage for “human-powered” connections. Further, the regional intercon- nectivity of these facilities provides a unique ecotourism opportunity, complementing other resource protection initiatives, and expanding access to and awareness of the region’s natural areas. In addition to the routine home/work trips, the regional green- ways and trails network offers day-long or multi-day excursions, including connectivity to overnight lodging, to expand the utility and economic benefits to the region. Greenways and trails offer opportunity for a broad range of users, including pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians, and paddlers, as well as the transportation disadvantaged.

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