An open letter to Durham Deputy City Manager Keith Chadwell:
I am writing on behalf of a group called Durham Complete Streets regarding the upcoming Transportation Department Director vacancy.
We would first like to congratulate Mark Ahrendsen on his retirement. We have always found Mr. Ahrendsen pleasant and professional to work with. His leadership and dedication to the Durham community is to be commended and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
We believe that the next director must be a leader in the Complete Streets approach and be an agent of change for the community.
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We need a director who is a recognized leader in implementing a Complete Streets approach with a track record of organizational change. The transportation needs of the Durham community are not being met. Citizens are not happy with the state of active transportation of our growing city:
▪ According to the 2015 City of Durham Resident Survey, only 24 percent of citizens are satisfied with ease of travel by biking, 33 percent by bus, 41 percent by walking … but 67 percent are satisfied with travel by driving.
▪ The condition of bicycle facilities is the No. 1 maintenance service desired by Durham residents to be considered over the next two years, followed by sidewalks, then the condition of neighborhood streets. We are not getting the right outcomes:
▪ Most streets are still designed to only serve motorists. The city of Durham has completed only a fraction of the bicycle and pedestrian networks proposed for the first decade of construction by the 2006 Durham Walks and Bike Plans.
▪ Durham citizens are killed or seriously injured each year in traffic fatalities, including several recent deaths involving people on foot or on bike. These deaths are preventable and unacceptable.
▪ The design of Durham’s streets are leading to disproportionately high pedestrian crash rates for children and African-Americans.
▪ Recent projects on Anderson Street and West Club Boulevard had to be re-designed because they did not fit the needs of the community. This wastes time and money and demonstrates that the proper project development and public input processes have yet to be developed.
Our new transportation director must:
▪ Understand the full range of transportation needs of our diverse community and be able to develop a comprehensive vision for meeting these needs.
▪ Demonstrate a true commitment to and expertise in multi-modal transportation planning. Implement a Complete Streets approach that reflects the best practices and experiences from similar endeavors across the United States and beyond.
▪ Develop a set of processes and projects that lead to improved measurable outcomes for all users of our transportation system. This will likely require training of DOT staff, the redesign of core planning and administrative processes, and an intensified commitment to working across City departments throughout this transition.
▪ Engage diverse stakeholders from across Durham and implement a consistent process to both educate and solicit feedback on transportation projects and programs.
Find more at Durham Complete Streets: www.durhamcompletestreets.com
Submitted by Josh Hawn for Durham Complete Streets