This is the third installment in a series highlighting the 2014 Voice of the People Award winners. The Voice of the People Awards recognize outstanding communities as identified by The National Citizen Survey.
Mobility is an important community aspect and greatly impacts quality of life. Gunnison County, CO, Park City, UT and Winter Garden, FL all identify mobility and transit as a top priority and, in turn, provide their citizens and visitors with excellent transit options. The mobility challenges faced by each community vary with landscape, weather and size. Gunnison County and Park City are famous for their abundant snow whereas Winter Garden, across the country, sits in the center of the Sunshine State.
Gunnison County, home to breathtaking scenery, a small-town atmosphere and the world-class skiing of Mt. Crested Butte, works hard to ensure access to all it has to offer. In the summer months, residents and visitors enjoy mountain biking and hiking opportunities throughout Gunnison, Crested Butte and the entire surrounding area. The Crested Butte Mountain Express runs every 20 minutes in the summer and every 15 minutes in the winter from the town of Crested Butte to Mt. Crested Butte and the ski area. Gunnison County is notable for its inter-agency transit cooperation; the county partners with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for bus service between Denver and Gunnison and the Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (GVRTA) which operates the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport.
Park City, also a world-class skiing and mountain biking destination, works hard to make its amenities accessible to all who wish to enjoy them. Park City has provided a free transit system which now includes buses, the Main Street Trolley and on-demand service for senior citizens and persons with disabilities which are all equipped with a wheelchair lift. The service, which has now expanded to neighboring areas as well, sees an annual ridership of around two million people. Significant investments have been made in other mobility infrastructure as well: in 2007, Park City citizens approved a $15 million bond measure for walking and biking improvements.
In 2011, Park City was named the International Mountain Bike Association’s first Gold Level Ride Community in recognition of its system of mountain bike facilities including trails, pathways and other trailhead infrastructure. In 2012, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Park City as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community. In the future, Park City will be integrating walking and biking access with surrounding jurisdictions to improve access to the entire network of pathways and trails with amenities such as kiosks, maps and work stations for on-trail repairs.
Winter Garden is a city that is committed to providing excellent mobility. In its 2009 Strategic Plan, the city listed mobility as one of nine strategic priorities for focus and development with the aims of safe and unencumbered movement throughout the city’s growth process, alternative means of travel and respecting the environment. A multimodal city, Winter Garden residents travel by car, foot, bike and golf cart. The city has taken steps to improve ease, safety and pleasantness of travel by each mode.
State Road 50, Winter Garden’s major thoroughfare, was redeveloped to include more lanes, dedicated bike lanes and safer pedestrian crossings in addition to beautifying road medians. To increase ease of bike travel, downtown Winter Garden added two bike rack stations for secure bike parking while cyclists enjoy retail and recreation destinations. Finally, in improving mobility by golf cart, Winter Garden expanded the number of streets which allow golf cart access, added 2.8 miles of trails and paths linking multiple subdivisions and added four EV charging stations which are also available for use by electric car drivers. Winter Garden continues to make mobility a priority in the future ensuring uncongested transit links to all parts of the city.