SARASOTA (WWSB) - Urban Planner Jeff Speck travels the country helping cities become more friendly for walkers and bikers. He first visited Sarasota in 2001--and says he’s impressed with the changes he’s seen over the past 18 years. Here are some of his comments:
* “You do have this condition that makes you different from many other parts of the country, where people have built a lot of housing in your downtown, and that makes the downtown much more vital. And you get the work-place people going to the restaurants, you get the people who live there going to the restaurants so that makes for a much more active city.”
*"Last time I saw the Rosemary District it was all chain-link fences and barking dogs."
*"You still have a lot of allocation in the streets that isn’t proper when it comes to driving lanes, parking lanes and bike lanes. You could attract more bikers to your community if that was done better."
*You’re still planting palm trees on streets that should have canopy trees that provide mirco-climate benefits, absorb storm water and give you shade.
*"We waited for 2 minutes after pushing the button to cross Tamiami Trail and then we waited for another two minutes waiting for the walk-signal to come.
*"Fruitville hasn’t improved a wit since we critiqued it 18 years ago, but I’m glad to hear changes are on the way."
Despite the challenges listed above, Speck still says Sarasota deserves a solid "A" grade.
“I first visited in 2001, came back in 2013-- and more has happened in that last 6 years than during that previous 12 year gap between visits,” he said.