HappyHealthySmart Greatest Hits

HappyHealthySmart Symposium, East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville, March 2017
HappyHealthySmart Symposium, East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville, March 2017

The HappyHealthySmart Symposium held last night at the East Tennessee History Center provided enough fodder for contemplation, discussion and action to keep us busy for a long time. I’ve listed some of the most salient points below. I’m not 100% sure I’ve attributed everything to the right person, but the “greatest hits” are what matters most. There were other great things said – particularly by Marshall Stair, but we saw his video from Pecha Kucha in the previous article. Follow that link to see many of the videos included in the symposium. The symposium continues tomorrow with elected officials in the morning and design professionals in the afternoon.

My favorite moment, not included below, was a statement from David Vega-Barachowitz to the effect that “even a blogger” might encourage this conversation. I guess we need a blogger who talks about these issues. Hmmm . . .


Philip Erickson, President of Community Design + Architecture in Oakland, California:

  • Even suburban construction like shopping centers should be designed for walkability with the goal of parking once and walking.
  • Housing and transportation costs are entangled issues. With land use (zoning) rules, we have made it more difficult to have affordability in both.

Belinda Woodiel-Brill, Director of Communications and Service Development, KAT:

  • Designing a fabulous bus route is useless if you can’t get to it and waiting isn’t pleasant.
  • We need to focus on the pedestrian experience (not just moving people).
  • Not everyone has a car.
  • In our area, 20 – 25% of income goes toward transportation.
  • 1 in 5 seniors, 60+ years and up, don’t drive.
  • We need to change our narrative from “How fast can I get there?” to “How can I get there a better way?” (IE. get things done along the way/arrive at work more relaxed)
Modern Bus

David Vega-Barachowitz, Senior Planner with the NYC Department of City Planning:

  • Public transit is very complex. A small change in a transit stop can make sense globally, but one person or a small group may be devastated by the change (IE not able to get to work). The balance between the personal and the global is very complex.
  • Use cheap, temporary pilot projects to demonstrate the change you want to make permanent.
  • Subtle public projects can make a difference (IE: A group painted a blue swath where a stream flowed underground to raise awareness of its presence, in an effort to get it unearthed.

Bill Bruce, MLA, Principal, CRJA/IBI Knoxville:

  • We should frame our discussion of walkability as an economic and health issue, not an amenity.

Donald Shoup, Professor and author of  “The High Cost of Free Parking” (via video):

  • Parking isn’t free. Estimate: Directly or indirectly the price we pay for “free” parking nationwide falls somewhere between what we spend on Medicare and national defense.
  • Parking constitutes the largest land use in most cities.
  • Cars are parked 95% of the time.
  • We should get the price right (the amount that will produce one or two empty spaces at any given time on a block) and give the money to the block for use in infrastructure on the block that generated the parking funds.
  • It’s a disastrous policy to require developers to provide a certain number of parking spaces for their projects.
  • If curb parking is cheaper than off-street parking (AKA garages) people will cruise until they find a space.
  • Average cruising time to find a spot in one study was three minutes. Not bad until you consider the millions of miles this added up to for all the cars that do this. And they aren’t watching pedestrians.
Density Diagram with Parking Structures and Lots, Knoxville, 2014

Gerald Green, Executive Director of MPC:

  • Don’t just attend these kinds of meetings, demand that elected officials address these issues.
  • We still don’t require sidewalks for new construction and the gap is growing if we ever want to catch up.
  • If we want a walkable city, we have to be willing to pay for it.

If you missed this conversation, not to worry, we’ll continue to discuss these important issues and you’ll likely find a number of them covered during next week’s architecture week.