The Multi-Modal Transportation District (MMTD) covers much of Tallahassee, including neighborhoods in Midtown, Frenchtown, west Tennessee, near the airport, the southside, and downtown. The district was intended to allow increased building density in return for providing infrastructure and services for forms of transportation beyond cars. We have seen the increase in density but not the corresponding provision of improved sidewalks, bike paths, and transit. What do you think the commission should do to better encourage more walking, cycling, and mass transit in the MMTD?
People in Tallahassee love their cars and they want to park in front of a place; they don’t want to walk. The City is trying to change that by putting sidewalks in places and creating the density to walk in areas like Midtown. In trying to encourage walking, the City will have to address issues of crime so that people feel comfortable to walk. The City has provided scooters and bicycles as alternate transportation, and the trolley in Midtown also provided that. Star Metro still needs some work to increase ridership. It is moving toward electric buses. The MMDT is an excellent concept and the City has more work to do. Longer term residents love their cars. For example, Star Metro had to eliminate its Southwood bus route due to low ridership. People need to get out of cars and use public transportation. We’re a hilly community. The City has started to do more with its trails system and this helps people get onto bicycles.
Tallahassee is doing next to nothing to improve the infrastructure and services for transportation and alternate transportation. Tallahassee wants an 18-hr. downtown, there are projects coming in South Monroe, but there’s no parking in the area and no plans to address it. The City does next to nothing to make people want to ride the bus. It spends lots of money on e-buses, but it’s only the homeless people that are riding buses. Raise ridership first and then improve buses. Tallahassee has not created the right infrastructure for most people to ride a bus as an alternative to driving a car. The right routes aren’t available. The city hires plenty of consultants, but for the wrong things. Hire folks that can create effective Metro routes and boost ridership. The City Commission can do a lot to change the direction regarding how buses are used in Tallahassee. Where are bike lanes downtown? There are none. Tallahassee has bike lanes on Capital Circle. Who rides bikes or even walks on the sidewalks there? Nobody. Put them where they will be used. Southside has been asking for sidewalks and streetlights for 20 years. How can people walk or ride bikes, or even live there if it’s not safe?
Group 1 – At Large
I believe the County has a role if it benefits the citizens of Leon County. All city residents are part of Leon County.
I do not understand why there is not a countywide bus system. This makes it harder and more expensive for people from the southside to get to jobs on the northside. We need to reduce the number of miles people travel in their cars. People say providing more transit will be expensive. We make decisions about money all the time. We have people living in neighborhoods with no sidewalks or streetlights. We have a responsibility to fix that. The County has a role in this. As an at-large commissioner, I would represent every person in Leon County. I started thinking about running for this position about three years ago.
Absolutely, I was the one who helped coordinate and kick-off the ‘Trail-ahassee’ idea. I have been fighting for the last 10 years to have a complete and overall trail system in the County. But there are many different types of trails. We need to have a master greenway plan and a master trail plan. I am also working with state officials because eventually some of these trails may become inter-city routes at some point. There are plans to make trails from Tallahassee to Havana, Monticello, and Thomasville that bicyclists can take and not be on a road.
The County does have a role to play in encouraging alternative transportation by what it permits for development. Better transportation would make it possible to limit the number of cars on the road. The City and County can do better to partner on transportation planning so that fewer car trips will be necessary. Central planning and permitting are the keys to encourage more mass transit.