In 2018 I was selected for the America Walks Walking College Fellowship.
The Walking College offers fellows an opportunity to be paired with experienced advocates, develop an understanding of today’s transportation systems from a historical perspective, and learn the basics of design and policy of non-motorized transportation. The fellowship also seeks to enhance leadership skills and aid fellows in developing a Walking Action Plan to improve walkability in their community.
During the fellowship period, fellows begin to explore the barriers to walkability in their community and work towards completing a series of module assignments that lead to a complete Walking Action Plan.
Below is a summary of the walking action plan I developed for a corridor in the City of Plano, Texas.
This Walking Action Plan (WAP) aims to implement a Complete Streets project in Plano, Texas, focusing on a corridor along Spring Creek Blvd comprised of Clark High School, Collin College, commercial development, transit, and adjacent neighborhoods.
The objectives of this plan are to:
- Increase awareness of Complete Streets and its benefits through public engagement.
- Create a coalition for Complete Streets in Plano.
- Spur buy-in with City officials and residents to get a Complete Streets project implemented on the Spring Creek Blvd Corridor.
The City of Plano, located in the northwestern Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex region, was recently named one of the “Safest Cities in America.” Plano has experienced continual growth of residents and commercial development over the years. This continual growth and development have increased the demand for alternative modes of transportation, such as the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) rail and bus facilities. The increased development has also driven the need for streetscape improvements to create a walkable and bikeable on-street network. Walkability has increasingly become a concern as traffic worsens in areas where young people are walking to and from school. Safer streets are needed to ensure both pedestrian comfort for students and traffic calming in areas of daily travel.
Why Complete Streets Projects in Plano?
What are complete streets? Complete streets are roadways that serve all users and modes of mobility such as pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and/or transit systems. As Plano’s population continues to increase, the City may want to consider infrastructure improvements that efficiently accommodate growth. This Walking Action Plan proposes a project that could serve as a pilot for areas where schools, pedestrians, and bicyclists’ infrastructure needs intersect with the goal of gradually developing a network of streets that offer intermodal options for all users.
The City’s inventory of parks, trails, and recreation centers is a major attraction to the City. Residents have multiple trail options through an interconnected shared-use path system throughout the City. Through Complete Streets implementation, an opportunity exists to connect the existing trail network to the on-street network of sidewalks and bike routes linking residents to various destinations beyond the vicinity of parks and recreation system.
Project Focus Area
The action plan examines a focus area along the Spring Creek Parkway Corridor as a precedent for Complete Street applications near schools and transit. The focus area is a 2.5-mile corridor comprised of various demographics and land uses that begins at Alma Drive and W. Spring Creek Parkway; ending at E. Spring Creek Parkway and Fieldlark Drive. The corridor includes Clark High School, Plano Event Center, Collin College Spring Creek Campus (serving approximately 13,000 students), Oak Point Nature Preserve, Oak Point Recreation Center, High Point Park, Parker Road Light Rail Station, ten multi-family developments, surrounding single-family neighborhoods and neighborhood retail.
Key Issues Along the Corridor
The key issues along the Spring Creek corridor are divided into three buckets, safety, connectivity, and pedestrian comfort. These issues can also be found in various parts of the City, making walking less ideal for residents. The following are issues as they relate to each category within the project focus area:
- Spring Creek Parkway is moderately busy most of the day and congested during rush hours. Multiple curb cuts along Spring Creek’s north side for commercial development provide unsafe conditions for pedestrian traffic.
- There are no safe crossings for walkers entering and leaving Lookout Trail
- HWY 75 overpass and wide frontage road divide Spring Creek Parkway, creating a perceived barrier.
- The sidewalk connection on the south side of Spring Creek Parkway adjacent to Plano’s Event Center property is missing.
- There are currently no bicycle lanes, and a continuous sidewalk is not provided along both sides of Spring Creek.
- The sidewalk along the corridor is relatively narrow at approximately 4′ in width.
- Due to the lack of shade trees along the corridor, sweltering temperatures could deter pedestrian traffic during the summer months. The sidewalk across Spring Creek Parkway adjacent to the neighborhood has no shade trees from users leaving the Clark High School.
Photo of student walking to Collin College with no sidewalk.
Google Streetview of desired path in the grass where the sidewalk ends due to the pedestrian traffic in the image above.
Google Streetview of the end of the desired path to an intersection with no sidewalks.
In order to have a Complete Streets project, community and public officials’ support is vital. Below are potential partnerships that will be contacted throughout the duration of the action plan.
- North Central Texas Council of Governments
- Plano Walking Club
- Plano Parks and Recreation
- PISD School District
- Collin College
- Plano Bicycle Association (PBA)
- Greater Dallas Bicycle Association
- Recumbent Bike Enthusiasts of North Texas
- Shawnee Trail Cycling Club
- Dallas Area Tandem Enthusiast
June 2018 – Walking Audit of Spring Creek Corridor
July 2018 – Assess existing sidewalk conditions identifying gaps, ADA issues, and barriers to accessibility.
November 2018 – Reach out to potential partners who are listed above.
April 2019 – Meet with stakeholders to discuss the importance of complete streets.
July 2019 – Meet with City Staff to discuss increasing walkability in the City.
August 2019 – Contact Clark High School to speak with staff to understand their student walking characteristics.
August 2019 – Contact Collin College to discuss their idea of the number of walkers and commuters to that campus and their thoughts on improving walkability to the college. Also, discuss distributing paper surveys and online survey links during events.
2018 – Research benchmark cities’ policies
2018 – Recruit partners
2018 – Communication campaign through a project website and social media
2019 – Host a public workshop
2019 – Conduct online and paper surveys
2019 – Advocate for funding of the Spring Creek Complete Streets Project