First “Walk & Talk” a great discussion

This past week, LSA hosted a “Walk & Talk” with Peter Lagerwey as part of our 2012-2013 Pedestrian Safety & Comfort Campaign. Peter Lagerwey is a nationally recognized expert on designing safe, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing communities. Lagerwey is the Regional Office Director for Toole Design Group in the Northwest and has over 26 years managing high profile pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs with the City of Seattle and as a private consultant. Peter is a nationally known expert having worked on non-motorized projects and made presentations in over 200 states, counties and cities. He was the project manager for developing and implementing the widely acclaimed Seattle Bicycle Master Plan; and co-author of the FHWA manual and training course on How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan”.


Lagerwey gave a “Walk & Talk” to various downtown Tucson stakeholders regarding the improvements that downtown Tucson has already experienced, and how his 13 Principles for Creating Great Communities can even further improve and assist in creating a vibrant downtown. He conducted a discussion on the qualities of downtown Tucson with an emphasis on encouraging stakeholders to collaborate on ideas that could better improve the safety and aesthetics of downtown Tucson.  Many stakeholders, including neighborhood representatives, local businesses, representation from Ward 2, the Downtown Tucson Partnership, and council from the Mayor’s office, to name a few,  attended the Walk & Talk.  The discussion was interactive and allowed for the community to voice their visions and priorities for future design in the downtown. The principles presented focused on good urban designs that help to create walkable communities. “Everything I’m going to show you, and talk about, I had the opportunity to actually put on the ground.” Lagerwey’s principles included:


  1. Safety: Traffic calming techniques
  2. Accessibility: ADA
  3. Aesthetics:  key to creating great communities
  4. Good Engineering
  5. People shop where they live, not where they work
  6. Economic Development: Starts with Housing
  7. All buildings – active ground space and housing on top
  8. Buildings should define streets – not motor vehicles
  9. Sidewalks need buffers
  10. –  13. The Zone System: curb zone, furniture zone, pedestrian zone, frontage zone


Before Lagerwey proceeded with his presentation, he asked the downtown community what design elements they felt were important to improving the downtown? (see image 1.2). Thought the list varied, two subjects came up regularly: provide 1) shaded spaces and 2) economic development opportunities.



After the discussion, Lagerwey took the group on a tour of downtown allowing us to focus on design elements already present as well as those that can be done to improve and encourage future walkability. Stops included the intersection at Pennington and 6th Ave, the Chicago Music Store, Congress and 5th Ave., the Rialto Theater, and Toole Ave. and Congress Street. A strong theme in most of the conversations was the ideas behind “place- making” and how important that idea is to the downtown community.


At the conclusion of the walk, the group had an opportunity to determine the top 5 elements that it felt would create a vibrant and walkable downtown. These included (in order of importance):

  1. provide more housing on the west side of downtown
  2. focus on creating shade,
  3. make Congress Street more bicycle and pedestrian friendly
  4. encourage parking regulations that would reduce surface parking
  5. increase accessibility for wheelchairs (which was tied with creating spaces for sidewalk cafes)

We view this as a great way to start working towards a walkable downtown Tucson.  To view a short video of the Walk & Talk, go here.

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