Dwayne James loves creating opportunities for people to challenge themselves and succeed at things they never thought they could accomplish. As a Ferguson City Council member, he worked closely with Trailnet’s Healthy Active and Vibrant Communities Initiative from 2008- 2013 to develop Live Well Ferguson, which organizes a variety of community events that bring people together for fun and exercise. Seven years ago, Live Well Ferguson organized the first Ferguson Twilight Run, an annual event that now draws up to two thousand participants.
“The first year we thought we might get 50 people to show up—we ended up with 900 people,” Dwayne said. “We get everyone from little kids, to seasoned runners, to those using a cane to walk the 5K. We’re telling people to show up however you are, as long as you do it. It’s not just good for the individuals or families, it’s good for the whole community because the community comes together and shines.”
Other annual events sponsored by Live Well Ferguson include the Twilight Ramble bicycle ride, and Sunday Parkways, an opportunity for residents to walk, bike and play on streets closed to car traffic.
Live Well Ferguson also promotes healthy food choices through Eat Well Ferguson, a program that provides nutritional information at participating local restaurants, and by offering garden plots at three community garden sites. Dwayne worked with several other residents to craft an ordinance creating the community gardens and conveyed his own excitement as a novice gardener.
“We wanted to do something positive with the empty lots that we had around town,” he said. “The great thing about community gardens is that people get out there to work and neighbors meet each other for the first time…they might live four doors apart but never knew each other. I grew my first cucumber – I was so excited! I just wanted to save it, but I had to eat it eventually.”
Another early goal of Live Well Ferguson was to craft Complete Streets legislation for Ferguson. Dwayne spearheaded this effort in 2008, making Ferguson one of the first communities in the region to pass Complete Streets.
“I am a civil engineer, so streets and infrastructure were things that I had in my back pocket,” Dwayne said. “We were already on a path to build a healthier, more active community, and I knew that designing streets that were safe for all users would be a great asset.”
Having served the maximum number of terms on the City Council, Dwayne is no longer a member, but is still an enthusiastic organizer of Live Well events and is also a Board Member of the Ferguson Youth Initiative.
FYI provides Ferguson teens with a welcoming space where they have access to activities, computers, and adult volunteers who provide tutoring. It also coordinates youth programs with other organizations, like the YMCA, Ferguson Parks and Recreation, and local schools and churches. Most importantly, FYI helped to create a Youth Advisory Board. This group of 10 teens provides a youth perspective on city issues, and gives young people a chance to participate in local government. Dwayne emphasizes the value of the Youth Board for the city as well as the teens who serve.
“It allows them to have a voice and empowers them to do things for themselves,” he said. “It also helps city officials understand what is important to our young people and ways that we can all work together to solve problems.”
Having lived in Ferguson for most of his life, Dwayne is familiar with its struggles, but positive about its future.
“We have people moving into the community, businesses that are growing, citizens stepping up to serve on the council,” Dwayne said. “Ferguson youth are doing amazing things. The schools are graduating some spectacular kids. If you don’t know the good and bad aspects of your community, then you’re not involved. I love Ferguson, I love North County, I love St. Louis. I know that there is lots of work to be done and it’s the entire community that makes things happen. There’s the person who steps up to volunteer, the person who comes out to an event and cheers the runners on, or even the resident who says ‘I’m ok with them shutting down my street to hold this event.’ I have faith in my community and know that working together we will continue to make great things happen.”
Trailnet’s Manager of Policy and Advocacy, Rhonda Smythe with Alderman Scott Ogilvie, and Trailnet’s Executive Director, Ralph Pfremmer
An update to St. Louis City’s Complete Streets policy passed on January 30, 2015 with unanimous support from the Board of Aldermen. Every aspect of our lives are impacted by the way our streets are designed and built. The comprehensive and collaborative approach laid out in this bill will have significant impacts on the quality of life for St. Louisans.
Major updates include:
A new framework for collaboration between City departments will be developed. The Departments of Health, Parks and Recreation, and Office of the Disabled will now have a formal seat at the table for the planning and implementation of future transportation projects. This means that air quality, public health, public safety, ADA improvements, and safe connections to major destinations will have a higher priority than in years past.
Street design standards will be updated to reflect the most current best practices, guidelines, and recommendations issued by the USDOT. This means no more bike lanes in gutters and appropriate pedestrian signals!
A targeted, data-driven approach to high crash intersections and corridors with prioritized improvements. Trailnet recently partnered with OpenDataSTL and Walker Hamilton to create an interactive map of bicycle and pedestrian crashes at http://bike-ped.confluencecity.com/. Tools like this enable data-driven decision making.
Performance measures and benchmarks will be identified and assessed annually.
Alderman Ogilvie sponsored this important piece of legislation and continues to be a strong advocate for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. Many partners joined Trailnet in advocating for the Complete Streets update, including Paraquad, American Heart Association, AARP, YMCA, and numerous neighborhood advocates. Our deep and sincere thanks for the valuable work they do to support a more livable St. Louis!
For more information on Complete Streets, click here.
Trailnet and Complete Streets in St. Louis County recognized
Please take a moment to read this Advocacy Advance blog post about “Winning Complete Streets in St. Louis County,” and the role Trailnet played. Advocacy Advance is a dynamic partnership of the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the League of American Bicyclists to boost local and state bicycle and pedestrian advocacy efforts.
We are delighted to be recognized for leading the first county in Missouri to pass Complete Streets legislation. Many thanks go to our supporters, for helping to make this “win” possible.
The fear of additional costs for Complete Streets is common. Many people believe that every street will need to be retrofitted with improved sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes when the policy is adopted. This is not true – the most common method of implementation is to make incremental improvements during regular maintenance. New roadway projects will include these elements from the beginning, during the design phase before construction has started.
Some standard Complete Streets infrastructure projects, such as changing pedestrian signal timing at intersections, add nothing to the cost of a signal.
In Charlotte, NC, the Department of Transportation found that the cost of adding sidewalks and bike lanes was less than the normal annual variation in road construction costs.
A study of the costs in Iowa estimated that including Complete Streets infrastructure would increase project costs by 5.4%. In other words, 95% of the planned and scheduled projects could still be completed with current funding levels, with the added benefit of biking and walking infrastructure. (See fact sheet for further examples and citations.)
Additional costs associated with the routine accommodation of walking, bicycling and public transit represent a small percentage of a transportation department’s total budget. On a project-by-project basis, any additional money spent is actually a long-term investment in public health, improved property values, economic revitalization, and increased capacity and improved mobility for all. Americans expect a variety of choices, and a multi-modal system of Complete Streets provides alternatives to driving. Implementing Complete Streets shifts our priorities to design for all users of the road.
Trailnet advocates for comprehensive Complete Streets legislation. Complete Streets policies ensure early multi-modal scoping, saving money by avoiding costly project delays. Without a policy, walking, biking, and public transportation accommodations are often debated too late in the design process and considered a disruption rather than necessary and beneficial project features. This creates expensive design revisions, time delays, and erodes public support. Furthermore, the failure to accommodate these user groups can trigger an expensive retroﬁt project at a later date.
Complete Streets makes fiscal sense and it meets the demands of our highest growing demographics. Without this legislation, people will simply choose to live in better connected places. Voters have twice chosen to tax themselves to create a more walkable, bikeable, connected region with Prop C in 2000 and Prop P in 2013. St. Louis County is poised to be a national leader with the adoption of this policy.
Complete Streets passed in St. Louis County last night, setting the vision to create connected streets that allow all people, regardless of age or ability, to travel safely to their destination.
The bill allows the County Departments of Planning, Parks and Recreation, and Health to have input into the transportation system that connects children to schools, people to parks, and neighborhoods to services. It also allows municipal leaders and stakeholder groups to participate in setting goals and priorities for the region.
To see a copy of the Complete Streets bill that was passed in St. Louis County on Tuesday, January 21, click here.
Trailnet staff put in countless hours (and a lot of blood, sweat and tears) to get this policy passed. This work is supported solely by member donations. Please donate now to help us continue this work to create a more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly St. Louis region.
Councilman Dolan was tireless in his pursuit of a bill that would work for all the stakeholder organizations, and deserves our thanks. Councilman Stenger co-sponsored the bill early on, putting his support behind Complete Streets. The final vote was six in favor and none against, with one Council member abstaining.
A neighborhood with a mix of houses, stores and businesses that are easy to walk to is preferred over a neighborhood with houses only that requires driving to stores and businesses (60 percent to 35 percent).
There is a wider divide among those who have moved in the last three years or are planning to move in the next three years. Recent movers prefer the walkable community by 20 points (58 to 38 percent), almost identical to the walkable community preference expressed by those who plan to move in the next three years (+18 points, 57 to 39 percent).
Privacy from neighbors remains at the top (86 percent important), along with sidewalks and places to take walks (80 percent important) and high quality public schools (74 percent important).
There is also a need for more safe routes for riding bikes to work and shopping. Almost half (48 percent) say there is too little safe bike routes, compared to 41 percent who say there is the right amount.
We will keep you informed on the progress of this important legislation. Thank you for your interest and support in making St. Louis a better place to live, work, and play.