Learn about building walkable commercial districts at the National Walking Summit

Decatur, GA
Downtown Decatur, GA, one example of a walkable commercial district.

The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, will be at the first National Walking Summit in Washington, DC on October 1-3, highlighting how communities are using Complete Streets to pursue walkability and support their local economies. The three-day summit will convene business, civic and nonprofit leaders to develop strategies, increase momentum and showcase best practices to increase investments in walking and walkability in communities throughout the country.

The National Complete Streets Coalition will be leading a session at the Summit called “Walkable Commercial Districts: Making the Case and Design Principles,” at 2:30 PM on October 1. The session will include a panel of local leaders—elected and otherwise—who make or influence transportation decisions.

As part of the panel Laura Searfoss, Policy Associate at the Coalition, will discuss how walkable commercial districts represent opportunities for broader efforts to rethink transportation systems and the choices they offer writ large. Using Decatur, GA as a case study, she will spotlight how communities are using a Complete Streets approach to guide these efforts, from policy to implementation.

Darren Flusche, Policy Director at the League of American Bicyclists, will examine the connection between places with walking, biking and transit facilities and prosperous economic outcomes.

Providing a business perspective, Martin Smith, Executive Director of Barracks Row Main Street, will provide an overview of the key components of vibrant retail areas—including walkability and how business owners think about walkability. Smith will also discuss the transformation of the Barracks Row area in Washington, DC into a national model for walkable commercial development.

And Chris Zimmerman, Arlington County, VA Board Member, will ground these retail principles, a Complete Streets approach and prosperous economic outcomes supported by research in examples from Arlington County. The county formally acknowledged Complete Streets in its 2007 Master Transportation Plan, though it has followed a Complete Streets approach for decades—long before “Complete Streets” was a common phrase.

Following the presentations, an interactive Q and A with audience members will focus on techniques and messages to build relationships between advocates, business leaders and elected officials. As the session concludes, we’ll crowdsource ideas for next steps, so everyone leaves with new, creative ways to use the information and examples from the session’s presentations.

Not attending the Summit in person? Follow the conversation on Twitter at the hashtags #walksum13 and #CSAddValue. And for realtime updates throughout the conference, be sure to follow Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.

The Coalition will also be featured during “Completing Our Streets: Policy and Advocacy Tools to Get You Moving” at 4:00 PM, also on October 1, 2013. We look forward to seeing you there!

Complete Streets