Who: Brent Toderian, founder of Toderian UrbanWORKS
What: Keynote Speaker, State of Downtown breakfast
Where: SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, 1401 K Street
When: Tuesday, February 21, 8 AM
Brent Toderian, an internationally respected practitioner and thought leader on advancing urban environments, will serve as Keynote Speaker at the annual State of Downtown breakfast hosted by Downtown Sacramento Partnership on Tuesday, February 21.
Toderian has more than 30 years of experience in advanced urbanism, city planning, urban design, transportation, and change management. He served for six years as chief planner for the city of Vancouver, Canada. He also served as Manager of Center City Planning + Design and Chief Subdivision + Neighborhood Planner in Calgary.
He founded TODERIAN UrbanWORKS (TUW) in 2012 where he continues to consult with cities across the globe to build thriving, liveable communities.
Toderian does not advise cities to maintain a staid status quo (hello, Sacramento!), which makes SABA excited to see what visionary ideas he’ll showcase to our elected officials and city planners.
We would love to have a solid representation of bike and ped advocates in the audience. Seeing Toderian’s ideas presented will provide a strong foothold for attendees to refer to when pushing local officials for better and safer active transportation options and infrastructure.
While our city center could never be called visionary, and if anything, it has gotten even less appealing since the pandemic and our new reality of remote workers. There are empty city and state buildings, bringing less foot traffic, revenue, and livelihood to the area. Empty, non- generating buildings are obviously not a recipe for success. But this means that there’s abundant opportunity for improvement.
There are so many changes that could be done to energize downtown, make downtown safer for everyone, help reach the state’s climate goals, and increase the tax base. We’re excited to see what comprehensive ideas Toderian brings to Sacramento’s city leaders.
Toderian is a strong advocate for placing the importance of people over cars. Let’s face it: roads inspire nobody. But city parks, patio dining areas, parklets (converted parking spaces), outdoor music venues, and community events DO inspire. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, people want and need to feel connected. Isolation isn’t healthy. This includes sitting in a car alone for hours a day and turning over the majority of public space to mostly single-occupancy vehicles.
If California were a sovereign nation, our state would have the fifth largest economy in the world. We should have an inspiring, thriving downtown capital city that reflects that. Right now, our downtown is, frankly, boring and built around fast car travel, making it unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.
For an example closer to home, the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis is 8 miles long, cutting through a variety of urban neighborhoods. Over half of business owners along the trail indicated they have seen an increase in customers since the Cultural Trail opened, and 48 percent indicated they have seen an increase in revenue. The trail boasts an economic impact of $864M. It’s not rocket science to understand that creating spaces where people want to spend time is good for business.
Sacramento needs a long-term visionary plan to revive downtown and support the local economy. We need more people in our city center, which simply means making downtown more attractive and interesting for employers, families, workers, and tourists.
From a bicycling perspective, there are some positive changes slated for the future, including the Central City Mobility Project that proposes permanent reconfiguration of high-speed, one-way roads into slower, safer, two-way avenues. The plan will also add miles of protected bike lanes in Sacramento and it includes a new rail station which will efficiently bring more people into town.
While this is good, Sacramento really needs a downtown plan that looks out 5, 10, and 50 years ahead, steering the city towards economic success and sustainability. Toderian’s ideas could help inspire that.
The defeat of Measure A in November—which would have raised taxes, increased sprawl, and widened highways that would have brought MORE congestion—tells us that Sacramento residents have had enough of archaic thinking and inaction by our city.
If we use some simple and relatively inexpensive techniques, including transforming space for cars into space for people and safe, separated bike lanes, Sacramento would quickly see results. Americans have been hoodwinked to believe that reallocating even a single parking spot away means death to local businesses. Studies have shown that this is simply not true.
Our city has a target bicycling mode share goal of 12% and we are currently at a dismal 2%. Without bold moves, we will not see bold progress. Or any progress. We’re already behind the curve and need to act now.
Here in Sacramento, 57% of our carbon emissions are from vehicles. With almost half of urban car trips estimated to be 3 miles or less in length, imagine the local air quality improvement if just 10% of those trips were converted from single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) to bikes or e-bikes. Even one trip by bike a day would do a lot towards reaching our climate goals.
In addition to safe cycling routes to downtown, we need better bus and light rail service. Both should be subsidized to make access to downtown more equitable and affordable for everyone. Prioritizing public transit makes driving a car less appealing and a less efficient means of getting around.
We recently saw a decision by our Mayor and City Council to decrease the cost of downtown parking prices. Subsidizing parking costs is ridiculously antiquated. No wonder we’re not seeing progress. How can we when our elected officials’ decisions take us backwards?
The fact that the website details for Toderian’s presentation includes information on SIX different car parking structures for attendees but nothing on how to arrive via transit or where to securely park a bike is a succinct reminder of how far we have to go.
Toderian’s consulting firm advocates for sustainable cities and looks at every facet that entails, from more bike lanes, to housing within reach, to efficient transit, to lowering emissions.
Tickets in the gallery seating section start at $35 but do not include breakfast. So be sure to fuel up before you ride over.
We hope to see you there!