Why Complete Streets & a Bike Masterplan Matter for Phoenix

1940s Downtown Phoenix

Today the Phoenix City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee voted on a Complete Streets Ordinance as well as a Bicycle Master Plan.  The Complete Streets Ordinance passed unanimously while the Bicycle Masterplan was tabled.  Here’s our letter from the AIA stating why both of these matter to Phoenix:

June 10, 2014
Council Members,

I am writing on behalf of the American Institute of Architects Phoenix Metro Chapter Advocacy Committee.   We are in support of both the Complete Streets Policy and the Bicycle Master Plan, Items 7 and 8 on the agenda for today’s meeting.

Both of these documents work in tandem to create a vibrant and globally competitive city by ensuring that our public infrastructural investments are dedicated to various transportation options including the car, walking, biking and transit.  Phoenicians want choices when deciding how to travel their city.  Phoenicians want an economically vibrant city that retains talent, supports families, and allows neighbors to age in place and enjoy their lifelong home.

As studies have shown, increasing the walkability of our streets also makes financial sense:

• Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment showed that investments in pedestrian safety and an attractive street environment bring quantifiable financial returns.  On a seven-point pedestrian environment scale, every one point increase in walkability was associated with 5.2% higher retail prices and 4.9% higher commercial rents.

• Accent Marketing and Research’s study found that customers who walk spend 1.5x more compared to those who drive

• CEO’s for Cities analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets and found that higher levels of walkability, as measured by Walk Score, were directly linked to higher home values.  Houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability.

• West Palm Beach, Florida showed that walkability improvements doubled both home prices and commercial rents.

It’s also important to remember our past.  In 1940 the City of Phoenix was only 9.6 square miles and we had a trolley system connecting a vibrant Downtown Phoenix with the newly establishing suburbs to the north.  By 1960, the trolley had been replaced by busses and rapid annexation took hold, bloating Phoenix to 185 square miles.  Today Phoenix proper sprawls across 518 square miles and the metro region spreads over 16,573 square miles.

The good news is that creating a vibrant multi-modal city is not new to Phoenix.  We can return to the exciting and vibrant city center of our past.   Adopting a Complete Streets Policy and the Bicycle Master Plan will focus development in the right direction.

The good news is that creating a vibrant multi-modal city is not new to Phoenix.  We can return to the exciting and vibrant city center of our past.   Adopting a Complete Streets Policy and the Bicycle Master Plan will focus development in the right direction.

— .

In addition we would like to emphasize the importance of creating an exciting, multi-modal city center when retaining talent for a globally competitive city.  As Bloomburg Business Week illustrated, Arizona is the third largest contributor to talent exported to Silicon Valley and the second state after only Texas.  A Nielsen report has also shown that Millennials prefer cities to suburbs and subways to driveways,

“Sixty-two percent [of Millennials] indicate they prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers, where they can be close to shops, restaurants and offices. They are currently living in these urban areas at a higher rate than any other generation, and 40 percent say they would like to live in an urban area in the future. As a result, for the first time since the 1920s growth in U.S. cities outpaces growth outside of them.”

Other cities such as Denver, San Diego and Austin are already ahead of us on both the livability and talent curve that attracts talented Millennials.  Now is the time to act and now is the time to make changes that will drive Phoenix towards another successful century.

Sincerely,

Christina Noble, AIA, LEED AP
Co-Chair, AIA Phoenix Advocacy
Secretary, AIA Phoenix Metro Executive Board
Christina.noble@contourarchitecture.com

Patrick Panetta, AIA
Chair, Phoenix ArchiPAC
Co-Chair, AIA Phoenix Advocacy
patrickpanetta@aol.com

AIA Phoenix Metro Advocacy Committee:

Will Bruder, FAIA
Eddie Jones, AIA
John Glenn, LEED AP
Matthew Salenger, AIA
Joan Baron

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