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How we move around affects our quality of life.

“Mobility modes” include walking, bicycling, jogging, rollerblading, skating, scootering, riding transit, or driving a golf cart, low-speed electric vehicle or motor vehicle.

Cities adopt “mobility plans” and charge developers mobility fees to make sure there’s adequate transportation infrastructure — including infrastructure that supports all the mobility modes. 

A mobility plan works best if it’s in place before development is approved, so developers know about the fees in advance. Cities benefit because they reduce the risk of running into infrastructure needs that there’s no money to pay for. Cities also reduce the risk of needing to do expensive and disruptive retrofits.

The Florida Legislature encourages local governments to adopt mobility plans and fees to provide flexibility to plan for all mobility modes. Such plans also allow us to proactively determine how best to meet the specific needs and desires of the community.

The integration of land use, transportation and parking in a mobility plan allows a community to transform from a primary focus on moving cars to one focused on people. We can plan safe and accessible mobility infrastructure for all ages and abilities.

A mobility plan can be used as an effective tool to encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented development, infill and redevelopment, to ensure we can walk, bicycle and skate more — and drive less.

DeBary, Maitland and Altamonte Springs are among many U.S. cities already realizing the benefit of mobility plans.

MORE THAN ONE WAY TO ROLL — Maggie Ardito’s bicycle is parked outside the Historic Volusia County Courthouse in Downtown DeLand.

 PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE ARDITO 

Developers appreciate these plans because they help increase the value and attractiveness of property, among other reasons.

DeLand and all West Volusia cities desperately need plans and developer fees in place before more developments are approved. 

We haven’t begun to absorb the impact of developments already underway. Approving more with no plan to manage the impact of more people and more cars is shortsighted.

Imagine one possible future. The abandoned Southridge Golf Course in DeLand sits at a pivotal juncture. It has the size and location to be an asset that adds communitywide value.

Decisions made now will have extreme and irreversible consequences affecting every aspect of every resident’s life and our town’s economy. Whether these consequences are beneficial or destructive depends on having adequate information to predict and manage the inevitable impact.

That means considering alternative land uses for the site — and having a mobility plan that transforms it into a community treasure. This former golf course could be a destination that establishes DeLand as a walkable, bikeable, people-friendly community where people can be active and enjoy outdoor resources.

The site is ideally situated close to town, transit and recreational facilities. It is a strategic location for connecting east-west (e.g., Daytona State College to DeLand to SunRail) and north-south (International Speedway Boulevard to Beresford) corridors for non-motorized traffic.

It’s not an island — it’s an integral part of our town and needs to be part of a larger plan to increase active transportation while reducing congestion, pollution, noise and environmental damage.

We urge our city planners to consider the larger picture, and to optimize land use with connections to Downtown, SunRail and regional trails. Let’s have a vision and a sustainable multi-modal mobility plan before deciding on Southridge or any other new developments.

— Ardito is St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance president and River of Lakes National Scenic Byway board member. She sees policies, infrastructure and attitudes that enable safe and equitable active mobility as a key to sustainable life quality for people and communities.

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