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Bad streets don’t just create frustrating commutes, Dan Burden told a Eugene crowd Feb. 28. They also hurt our health, environment and economy.

Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, spoke as part of the University of Oregon’s LiveMove Transportation Speaker Series. A national authority on bicycle and pedestrian programs, street corridor and intersection design, and traffic calming, Burden started advocating for active transportation 38 years ago.

A healthy and sustainable community is a walkable one, Burden said, and transportation and land-use planning both should serve that goal. “If you want to be a transportation planner, you’d better take a couple courses in land use,” he said. “And if you want to be a land-use planner, you’d better take a couple courses in transportation.”

Well-designed streets are key to healthy communities, Burden said. Wide sidewalks, good landscaping, buffer zones between cars and pedestrians and short crosswalks all create an environment that gets more people walking. In turn, he said, businesses will build to take advantage of foot traffic and existing owners will see their property values rise.

Although established communities offer few opportunities to plan streets from scratch, there are still opportunities to incorporate good design, Burden said. Bad streets can be put on a diet, he said....

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Dr. Yizhao Yangís OTREC project on understanding school travel examined the relationships between school transportation, neighborhood walkability, and where families choose to live. The study involved a 5,500-household survey of families with children attending selected public schools in Eugene, Oregon. In general, parents did consider school transportation in the process of deciding where to live. Unfortunately, housing opportunities around schools and in walkable communities are often limited. Dr. Yangís project suggests a need for greater coordination between community land use planning and school planning. The study also points to the value of continuing to educate the community about safe and active transportation options to school. The final report can be downloaded at: http://otrec.us/project/184.