Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dan Burden In Virginia Beach

Dan Burden is with the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, and was once named Social Innovator Of The Year by Time magazine. He was in Virginia Beach for two days last week, giving two presentations on Thursday.


Burden was at the Strategic Growth Area (SGA) Office on Thursday morning. (Prior to things convening, I had to joke SGA Office Director Barry Frankenfield that he was still in business with John Moss having lost the election.)

Burden gave a two and a quarter hour Presentation. From it:

1. Walkability should be at the center of design, not moving automobiles.

2. Property values in walkable areas are 3-5 times higher than in unwalkable.

3. Retail sales on streets with tree canopies are 12% higher.

4. Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) is growing at an astronomical, unsustainable rate.

5. We should stress form, not density. Simply permitting an additional couple units per acre in current multifamily suburban areas would allow for building much more attractive housing.

6. When we started building five lane roads (two traffic lanes each way, with a center turn lane) in this country, a delegation from Australia came over to look at them. They went back to Oz determined that such monstrosities should never be built down under.

After the Presentation, we went on a Walking Audit around the Town Center area. Burden's opinions from that:

1. Streets - the streets in Town Center are too wide.

2. Virginia Beach Boulevard - three lanes each direction are more than sufficient to carry it's traffic volumes. The outer lane would then become on-street parking.

It's not a zero sum game. Narrowing the street would allow for shortening the cycle on the pedestrian signal, meaning less time sitting in a red light.

3. Crossing the Boulevard - it took us nearly 5 minutes to walk from the door of the Cheesecake Factory to Romano's Macaroni Grill, much too long.

4. Independence Boulevard/Virginia Beach Boulevard - if we have an uglier intersection, Burden said "I don't want to see it."

5. Town Center side streets - Burden suggested reconfiguring them, starting with less-used portions as a test.

Burden didn't fault builders, pointing out that they normally build to the code. It's the code that's the problem. Before you jump to the conclusion that Burden's ideas on the Walking Audit will become concrete, I overheard where engineers on the Walking Audit were already raising objections to implementation.

Afterwards, lunch was served in the SGA Office, with question time over the meal.


On Thursday evening Burden spoke at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) as part of the Envision Transportation speaker series. He gave a shortened (how many laymen want to sit through 135 minutes?) and simplified version of that morning's Presentation. It was taped for VBTV, and will be on the Envision Transportation website as streaming video.

Questions were taken afterwards. I counted 28 people in attendance, despite the bad weather that night.


The final speaker of the Envision Transportation Series will be Amy Inman of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). It will be on Monday, November 15 at 7 P.M. at the ATC. Inman will address Phase II of the Regional Transit Vision Plan. Amy is a mass transit planner, and serves as DRPT's representative to the TPO.

1 comment:

thesh00ter said...

i can't till Ms/Mrs. Inman speaks