2019 Top 10 – #1: Adopting a Key West Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

Before we bring you the Top 10 Key West Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People Stories of 2020 we are counting down last year’s 2019 Top 10 to refresh our memories of where we’ve been. Especially as many of the 2019 stories carry over into 2020. Each day we’ll share another story until we get to 2019’s #1 on December 18. THEN we’ll build on that and begin counting down 2020’s Top 10 till the end of the year. We hope you enjoy our 2019 Recap and our new 2020 stories throughout December. Thank you.

By Chris Hamilton; Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Picture it. Clearly marked separated and protected bike lanes, greenways or bike boulevards, and off-street paths connect throughout the city, forming a seamless, uninterrupted network of bicycle facilities allowing safe travel through and around the island for everyone of all ages and abilities. Signs show bikers and walkers where they are and how to get to their destination. Bike boxes at busy intersections create space for bicycles ahead of the cars. Ample bike parking is found within a block of all work, shop and play destinations. Wider sidewalks in busy downtown areas, intersections with bump outs and mid-block crosswalks, traffic calming to slow the cars, and places for people to sit, watch, chat and eat in more places. This is the vision the Key West Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Transportation Plan paints for our future. If implemented, could we in five to ten years, get to half of all work trips within the City made by biking and walking? – more than doubling the current percentage of 23 percent (15% bike/8% walk).

As one of the Key West’s preeminent bike advocates consistently says, the island is warm, flat and small, so our focus should be on getting more people to bike and walk, because that’s cheaper than accommodating cars and ramping up transit. We agree. An island that is safer and easier for more people to bike and walk would be healthier, more equitable, cleaner for our environment, combat climate change, increase prosperity for local business, and would make us happier too. The Plan adopted by City Commission in March is an amazingly straightforward blueprint to make it happen. 

The Plan was 23 years in the making, as the last time the City adopted one was in 1996. Sadly, many of the recommendations from that era are in this plan again because they were never taken up. The good news is this version, written by the foremost planning firm of its kind, Toole Design Group, undertook painstaking field assessments and data collection to undergird its recommendations. They then vetted these ideas with multiple online, email and in-person surveys, public meetings, outreach at community events, public bike rides, boards set up around the island at shopping centers, intercepts along the trails and streets and further meetings with city officials, commissioners and stakeholders – including a citizen Project Advisory Team and the City Commission’s Parking and Alternative Transportation Group. They even had an interactive online map so citizens could pinpoint trouble spots and sketch out solutions. And then for good measure more public meetings. This plan has been thoroughly vetted and is ready to go. In fact, the City has already shown progress with the Crosstown Greenway (#7 Starting the Crosstown Greenway Project, Dec. 23) and Atlantic Boulevard (#9 City Rebuilds Atlantic Boulevard Bike Path, Dec. 21) projects.

To the plan’s credit it includes a Multimodal Connectivity chapter that looks at larger policies and community goals and puts the bike and walk actions in context of traffic, parking, transit and other modes. It addresses the need for safety education and marketing. It presents a vision of the future and breaks down bicycle and pedestrian network recommendations into short, medium- and long-term actions. It includes a section on Complete Streets, best practices, evaluation, funding and maintenance. In short, all City staff have to do is pick up the document and go through it step by step.

Lots of people already bike and walk by default in Key West because our island is flat, small and warm. But if we are going to get more people to bike and walk that is going to be because we make it safe and easy by design. While there are many low-cost action items included in the plan, there is a cost associated with the substantial infrastructure changes. However, we must think of these costs as an investment in our future. All we need is the will to take this excellent document and get going.

Are we ready Key West?

KW Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan 2019 (1)
Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Appendix
Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Master Plan Phases

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#2 City Adopts Ambitious 10-Year Key West Transit Plan (Dec. 30, 2019)
#3 New Duval Pocket Park for People Replaces Parking Lot for Cars (Dec. 29, 2019)
#4 Mall on Duval (Dec. 28, 2019)
#5 HAWK” Signals Installed at 5 N. Roosevelt Crosswalks (Dec. 27, 2019)
#6 City Implements New Parking Strategies (Dec. 26, 2019)
#7 Starting the Crosstown Greenway Project (Dec. 23, 2019)
#8 Duval Street Revitalization Help Sought Via RFQ (Dec. 22, 2019)
#9 City Rebuilds Atlantic Boulevard Bike Path (Dec. 21, 2019)
#10 City Addresses Closing the Gap at Admiral’s Cut (Dec. 20, 2019)

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

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