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Livable Communities’ Focus Now on Birmingham

Earlier this year, AARP joined with the communities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores for an “active living workshop” and pilot project designed to build healthy communities by applying the principles of active transportation, Smart Growth and Complete Streets. Recently, that attention was turned to two areas of Birmingham.

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Three “livable communities” workshops were held in Birmingham to allow citizens, city officials and others the opportunity to offer input on their vision for a better Jefferson County by incorporating the principals of livable communities and complete streets.

The workshops were led by Dan Burden, a nationally known expert in the field of livable communities, once named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s six most important civic innovators.

The principals of livable communities encourage elected officials and planners to design and operate cities with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. By planning for growth in compact urban areas, which include housing, employment, retail outlets, cultural opportunities and recreation, residents are more likely to adopt a healthier “pedestrian” lifestyle. The work is a collaborative effort by AARP, AARP Alabama and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

The Birmingham workshops focused on the area surrounding Railroad Park along First Avenue South between 18th and 20th Street South and on the Bessemer Superhighway between Woodward Road and Aronov Drive, near Western Hills Mall. The 22-mile stretch dubbed the “Superhighway” was chosen because it is currently being studied by the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission for ways to improve transit. The Railroad Park area was selected because of growth surrounding revitalization efforts already underway and the area’s potential for growth.

As a part of the workshops. Burden also created “photo-morphs” of the existing areas, and transformed the images using the principles of complete streets and integrating elements suggested by citizens, elected officials and others.

Find other information online from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

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