Transportation

Overview

Transportation is a part of Clearwater Greenprint, the city's sustainability plan

greenprint, sustainability, resiliency, bike, transportation

Transportation is a Key Sustainability Issue

Transportation is a key sustainability issue for the city of Clearwater, as the combustion of fuels for transportation is the second-largest contributor to the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The ability to travel easily and affordably using multiple types of transportation is also essential to a healthy local economy. Therefore, providing safe, convenient, and affordable transportation options for residents, workers, and visitors is an important component of the city’s sustainability plan. Having true transportation choices requires continued investment in “complete streets,” which accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, and cars; and in designing communities that make these transportation options possible.

Clearwater is a largely developed community and most of the major streets in the city have been widened to the maximum extent. This means that new street widening projects to accommodate greater traffic flow are not possible in most areas. With this constraint in mind, we will need alternatives to automobile travel to meet the travel demands that come with increasing population. The pattern and design of our urban places should better support walking, transit and bicycling. At the same time, the design and function of our street network need to be rearranged to achieve a balance that meets the needs of all.

In addition to promoting alternatives such as public transit, bicycling and walking, the city will prepare for the next major shift in the automobile industry: the electrification of vehicles. Electric vehicles have no direct emissions and are three to six times more energy-efficient than a car that runs on gasoline. In addition to their lack of GHGs, switching to electric vehicles decreases the pressure for offshore drilling in the search of oil and results in healthier environments for people by decreasing air pollution. Improvements in the production of electric vehicles over the years have made them increasingly efficient and affordable.

Transportation Strategies Overview

Vehicle Mile Reduction

  • Launch a VMT reduction campaign.
  • Reduce city-wide VMT by 10%.
  • Launch an internal VMT reduction program for employees.

Complete Streets Policy

  • Complete actions outlined in the Complete Streets Plan
  • Healthy street design is local government policy.

Local Transit Improvement

  • Continue to advocate for more funding to increase bus and trolley stops on existing routes.
  • Collaborate with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to improve bus scheduling.
  • Explore and encourage alternative forms of public transportation (e.g., Bus Rapid Transit, carpool, car share, bike share, scooter share, and ferry services).

Low Emission Vehicles

  • Support construction of infrastructure for low-to-zero emission vehicles.
  • Continue to install public EV charging stations.
  • Change the Community Development Code to require charging stations for electric vehicles for new development and adopt “EV ready” policies.
  • Host a minimum of one event per year at which the public is encouraged to try an electric vehicle.
  • Partner with an organization such as the Sierra Club or Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to create an event that encourages residents and businesses to shift to hybrid electric vehicles.

Municipal Fleet Conversion

  • Adopt a Green Fleet Policy to govern use and procurement of fleet vehicles.
  • Investigate financing mechanisms to offset cost of fleet conversion (e.g., vehicle leasing and federal tax credit).
  • Increase the share of municipal light-duty vehicles running on alternative fuels.

Congestion Management

  • Manage traffic congestion by considering alternative intersection designs.
  • Continue to include roundabouts in new road construction projects.
  • Consider the use of other congestion management practices.

Municipal Telecommuting Policy

  • Increase the alternative work schedule and telecommuting opportunities available to city workforce.
  • Encourage virtual meetings in lieu of in-person meetings requiring travel by automobile whenever possible

Strategy 1: Vehicle Mile Reduction

  • Launch a VMT reduction campaign.
  • Reduce city-wide VMT by 10%.
  • Launch an internal VMT reduction program for employees.

Success in meeting the city’s GHG reduction goals will require each of us to commit to reducing the amount of driving we do. The city will promote this change by initiating a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction campaign. This campaign will educate residents with the aim of reducing city-wide VMT by 10%. By setting a challenge to reduce VMT by 10%, businesses and residents who participate will consciously consider the amount of driving they do and take specific steps to reduce it. The city will promote a web based VMT reduction challenge tool that will track goals and results and encourage individuals and businesses to develop their own VMT reduction plans. The city will also lead by example through an internal VMT reduction program for their employees, which will require a shift in how employees get to work and conduct city business.

Strategy 2: Complete Streets Policy

  • Complete actions outlined in the Complete Streets Plan.
  • Healthy street design is local government policy

Streets are a vital part of livable, attractive communities. Everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, race or ethnicity, should have safe, comfortable and convenient access to community destinations and public places—whether walking, driving, bicycling or taking public transportation. The city has a long-standing commitment to pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure, which reduces transportation-related GHG emissions, reduces traffic congestion, promotes a healthier lifestyle for Clearwater residents, and creates community cohesion. Providing sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes along city streets is a matter of policy for the city.

According to Smart Growth America, Complete Streets are, “designed and operated to prioritize safety, comfort, and access to destinations for all people who use the street, especially people who have experienced systemic underinvestment or whose needs have not been met through a traditional transportation approach”. The city has made significant progress on its complete streets efforts since City Council approved the original Greenprint in 2011. Multiple trails were constructed to connect larger trails, and trail users can now travel all the way from Tampa to Clearwater Beach. A transportation planner position was created in 2016 to focus on the future of the city’s transportation and a Complete Streets Advisory Committee was also established to review future plans.

Many residents from the Skycrest Neighborhood worked with city staff to secure a state grant for the Skycrest Complete Streets project in 2018. The intent of the project is to balance accessibility for all modes of transportation, enhance safety, and to encourage economic revitalization and reinvestment along Drew Street and surrounding neighborhoods. Most recently, Clearwater’s city council approved the Complete Streets Implementation Plan to achieve appropriate, active, and safe streets. Such streets can occur by analyzing the types of land uses (residential, commercial, industrial, public, and so on) within an area and understanding how the surrounding streets can be re-designed to meet the mobility needs of people who use them.

According to the article, “Street Design Guidelines for Healthy Neighborhoods”, by Dan Burden of Walkable Communities, Inc., healthy streets are, “networks of roadways and connector trails in communities designed primarily for use by people, not just motorized vehicles.” Such streets are designed for motorists to feel comfortable operating at low speeds. Low traffic volume and low noise, easy access, and multiple routes to destinations are also features. Pedestrian and bicycle movements are favored.” The city of Clearwater will implement healthy street design principles as part of local government policy. The city will also consider the 12 Steps of Walkable Communities according to the Florida Department of Transportation Pedestrian and Bicycle Program and the Street Design Guidelines for Healthy Neighborhoods from Walkable Communities, Inc. in formulating new strategies and policy, and in daily operations.

Strategy 3: Local Transit Improvement

  • Continue to advocate for more funding to increase bus and trolley stops on existing routes.
  • Collaborate with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to improve bus scheduling.
  • Explore and encourage alternative forms of public transportation (e.g., Bus Rapid Transit, carpool, car share, bike share, scooter share, and ferry services).

Improving the transit system will give residents, employees, and visitors access to jobs, services and tourist destinations. In 2017, the city partnered with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to construct the Clearwater Beach Transit Center. The center added a bus bay, multiple covered pedestrian waiting areas, and new stops for riders making connections along the beach. Most notably, the Clearwater Beach Transit Center included Pinellas county’s first queue-jump, signal prioritization which allows buses to pull ahead of traffic to shorten travel times. The city also funds additional trolley services during the time period in which most schools have spring break in order to reduce the amount of congestion to and from the beach. Most recently, the city is working with the Florida Department of Transportation and the PSTA to form a Memorial Causeway Busway Plan to improve traffic flow to Clearwater Beach.

The PSTA has also made significant advancements in its ability to keep passengers informed about real-time bus schedules and wait times. Both a website and a downloadable phone application are available to improve user experience and increase ridership. The city has and will continue advocating for more funding to increase bus and trolley stops on existing routes, which will improve ridership by increasing convenience. The city can also work with the PSTA to prevent poor scheduling of buses and require a minimum amount of wait time between buses.

Public transit has also evolved beyond what was envisioned at the time Clearwater Greenprint was first created. Public transit now includes Bus Rapid Transit, carpooling, car share systems (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc.), zip cars, bike share, and scooters. Water transportation with ferry services, like the Clearwater Ferry, have also become a possibility. The city will explore and further encourage these initiatives.

Strategy 4: Low Emission Vehicles

  • Support construction of infrastructure for low-to-zero emission vehicles.
  • Continue to install public EV charging stations.
  • Change the Community Development Code to require charging stations for electric vehicles for new development and adopt “EV ready” policies.
  • Host a minimum of one event per year at which the public is encouraged to try an electric vehicle.
  • Partner with an organization such as the Sierra Club or Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to create an event that encourages residents and businesses to shift to hybrid electric vehicles.

The city will create an environment where low-to-zero emission vehicles have infrastructure that supports them. This includes opportunities for different fueling, parking, and operational needs. High fuel efficiency combustion engine vehicles of all kinds have a place in the future community vehicle fleet mix. This includes high fuel efficiency cars, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, and golf carts.

Electric driving requires a shift in how we fuel our vehicles as fueling can take place at home, in the community, or along our highways. Perceived lack of charging stations is cited as one of the top barriers to electric vehicle ownership. Therefore, increasing awareness and access to charging infrastructure is one of the best things the community can do to encourage electric vehicle use. The city will continue installing public EV charging equipment and will adopt policies to encourage private investment in charging infrastructure.

The city will also adopt “EV ready” policies and changes to the Community Development Code that include charging stations for electric vehicles in new developments. The city will also aim to hold at least one event each year that encourages the public to try an electric vehicle. Multiple organizations, including the Sierra Club and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy can assist in creating an educational and engaging event. Through readiness, the city will provide residents and local businesses encouragement to shift to hybrid and electric vehicles and lower their transportation-related GHGs.

Strategy 5: Municipal Fleet Conversion

  • Adopt a Green Fleet Policy to govern use and procurement of fleet vehicles
  • Investigate financing mechanisms to offset cost of fleet conversion (e.g., vehicle leasing and federal tax credit)
  • Increase the share of municipal light-duty vehicles running on alternative fuels.

Over the last ten years, a number of vehicles within the city’s fleet, including 70 garbage and recycling trucks, have been converted to run on compressed natural gas instead of conventional gasoline. While natural gas does produce GHG emissions, current energy-use models find it to produce 6-11% less emissions than gasoline.

The city will continue to improve the sustainability of its municipal fleet by adopting a Green Fleet Policy to govern its vehicle purchases and driving practices. As part of this policy, the city will create a vehicle replacement procedure to replace all light-duty vehicles with alternative fuels as replacement is needed. This will also require that the city install EV charging stations at key places in order to allow its electric vehicles to charge. The city will investigate the use of certain financing mechanisms, such as vehicle leasing, to participate in the federal tax credit available on electric vehicles.

Strategy 6: Congestion Management

  • Manage traffic congestion by considering alternative intersection designs.
  • Continue to include roundabouts in new road construction projects.
  • Consider use of other congestion management practices.

Projects that reduce congestion and idling have a significant effect on GHG emissions from vehicles. Since the first version of Greenprint, multiple intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) have been installed around the city to improve congestion, and pedestrian signals have been installed at key intersections. Furthermore, all ATMS facilities have dynamic message signs (DMS) that relay real-time information to travelers, allowing drivers to prepare for road closures, accidents, or emergency news.

The city can further manage traffic congestion by considering alternative intersection designs. Continuing to include roundabouts in new road construction projects can have multiple benefits including the reduced frequency and severity of crashes, reduced traffic delays, increased traffic capacity, reduced long-term operational costs, and reduced emissions and noise. To date, there are 34 roundabouts throughout the city. Additional congestion management practices include: ITS technology that includes real-time congestion and auto travel information; transit trip planning; mobile ticketing; bike/car sharing; and vanpooling technology.

Strategy 7: Municipal Telecommuting Policy

  • Increase the alternative work schedule and telecommuting opportunities available to city workforce
  • Encourage virtual meetings in lieu of in-person meetings requiring travel by automobile whenever possible

With transportation being a large and increasing contributor to our city-wide GHG emissions, the city will lead by example in reducing vehicle miles traveled within city boundaries by using alternative work schedules and increasing telecommuting opportunities within its workforce. It will also encourage virtual meetings, rather than in-person meetings that require driving, wherever possible. The city will develop a Telecommuting Policy to establish alternative work schedule options and define eligible positions and candidates.

 

Learn More About Transportation

Complete Streets

Electric Vehicles

Fleet Replacement and Energy Efficiency

Electric Vehicle Adoption

Healthy Street Design