February 2020 Newsletter: Austin Extends Bikeway Network for All Ages and Abilities

Austin adds more miles to its rapidly growing bike network

A new two-mile section of two-way protected bike lanes opened this month along Shoal Creek Boulevard in Austin, TX. It’s part of a five-mile project that fills a link in an envisioned 30-mile trail loop.

Toole Design is supporting the City of Austin’s implementation of this exciting project from start to finish. We partnered with the City to host public workshops, starting with a listening session to better understand the needs and concerns of the community. The meetings showed the community how the street operated under existing conditions by displaying crash data, the high-injury network, existing bike and sidewalk networks, parking counts, and speed and volume data. We then took the insight gained at these public meetings and made infrastructure recommendations and provided design guidance and development support. We are currently seeing the project through planning and design phases, all the way to the finishing touches needed for implementation. This includes new markings, signage, a new bicycle signal, and concrete curb work to transform intersections and establish new pedestrian crossings.

The project also features a five- to three-lane conversion to improve overall street safety and make space for protected bike lanes. Four intersections are also being completely reconstructed with protected intersection elements. Among the most exciting elements of the project is a bicycle and pedestrian underpass that will be installed later this year. These safety improvements are already showing signs of success: since the new street design has been in place, high-risk speeding is down by 80%.

We commend the City of Austin and all project partners for having the vision and tenacity to see this exciting project through to reality. When complete in summer 2020, it will improve bicycle and pedestrian access along a critical corridor for thousands of people. Click here for video of community members turning out to celebrate their new bicycling opportunities!

Learn more about this project here.

ITE Journal features Toole Design’s perspective on equity 

The February 2020 issue of the ITE Journal is devoted to the vital topic of equity in transportation. The issue features “How to Place Equity at the Center of Our Work,” which makes the case for centering equity in the work of transportation design and planning and offers suggestions for developing an equity-focused approach in both transportation organizations and our communities at large. Toole Design’s Jennifer Toole, AICP, ASLA, Tamika L. Butler, Esq., and Jeremy Chrzan, P.E., PTOE, LEED® AP wrote the article, which includes advice and insight about:

  • How equity and transportation are related
  • Making equity part of your organization’s culture
  • Practical steps transportation professionals can take to promote equity in their work

Click here to read the issue and here for more information on how we work toward equity at Toole Design.

Key takeaways from the TRB Annual Meeting

In January, thousands of transportation professionals attended the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC. Several Toole Design staff were among them, including authors or co-authors of seven papers that were presented at the conference. Presentations were on topics ranging from reducing pedestrian fatalities to dockless bikeshare.

What did Toole Design staff walk away from TRB feeling inspired about? The potential that lies within big data, an increased focus on equity, and an emphasis on finding climate solutions, for starters. However, concerns about pedestrian safety and misconceptions about bicycling were still prevalent given worsening annual pedestrian fatality statistics. Read more about our key takeaways here.

Welcome Michelle Danila, our new Director of Engineering Operations

One of the things we love at Toole Design is when former staff members who have gone out and done fantastic work in the world come back to join us. That’s why we are excited to welcome back Michelle Danila, P.E., PTOE to serve as our Director of Engineering Operations for North America. Michelle joins us from Massachusetts Department of Transportation, where she was the state’s Complete Streets Engineer, responsible for ensuring all projects meet the needs of people regardless of travel mode. Before that, she worked with Toole Design for nearly eight years as a Senior Engineer in our Boston office.

“We’re delighted to welcome Michelle back to our team,” said Toole Design CEO Jennifer Toole. “Michelle’s passion for designing roadways for people – not just vehicles – is inspiring. She has an eye for the details that matter – and is uniquely qualified to oversee our 100+ engineers and landscape architects as they design world-class streets throughout North America.”

Michelle has a civil engineering background that includes transportation planning, traffic analysis, safety analysis, and roadway and intersection design. She has designed a variety of facilities for people walking, biking, and taking transit, including separated bike lanes, protected intersections, floating bus stops, curb extensions, and ADA-compliant sidewalks and curb ramps.

“I’m passionate about redesigning streets to provide reliable, safe, and convenient travel options,” said Michelle. “I’m happy to be back at Toole Design in this new capacity, and to have the chance to work with our talented engineers and designers from across the U.S. and Canada.”

Michelle was a lead author for the Federal Highway Administration’s Achieving Multimodal Networks: Applying Design Flexibility and Reducing Conflicts, and she is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. Learn more about Michelle here.

Last call for summer 2020 interns

Applications to become a Toole Design intern in summer 2020 are due Sunday, March 1. Interns spend 8 to 12 weeks working alongside our staff of landscape architects, planners, and engineers in offices across the country. A typical day might include analyzing survey data for a pedestrian master plan, preparing materials for a public meeting, or helping develop graphics to demonstrate a new intersection design. In addition to these types of technical positions, operations positions are also available.

Currently, we have openings listed in our Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, Madison, Oakland, Portland, and Raleigh offices. Toole Design internships are ideal for people who are passionate about making active transportation better, who are willing to learn and take on new challenges, and who ask questions when they need help but are also willing to take ownership of projects. All Toole Design internships are paid. Click here for more information.

Both Austin photos are (c) Laura Dierenfield.

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