Can Downtown Sarasota Become Walkable?

While attending the Thunder By The Bay motorcycle rally in early January, as the roads were blocked off for pedestrian traffic and the occasional purring cycle, I got a great feel for how Main Street could work as a walkable promenade. The architecture is beautiful and the stores are interesting, unique, and of wide variety. People gathered to talk and enjoy one another’s company while perusing the motorcycles, vendors, and local establishments. I couldn’t help but think of the vitality the area could offer as a destination location instead of merely the collection of different locations that it currently represents.

After watching a documentary on Curitiba, Brazil, where they turned their busiest street into a walkable mall, and seeing the positive impact this type of promenade has made in other communities, I think that Sarasota would benefit greatly from such an endeavor. The Green Hopper and pedicabs could continue to offer expeditious transportation for those who need a break from walking, and everyone could enjoy a leisurely stroll through one of the most beautiful and creative cities on the Gulf Coast of Florida, further enhancing the allure of the area as a tourist destination. This was a vision of the Sarasota Master Plan many years ago, and I think that it would work in our best interest to keep progressively moving forward to bring that vision to light.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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