AARP Awards 2021 Community Challenge Grant to Bike Pensacola
Proposed four-mile-long contiguous cross-town bike boulevard will connect the community
Bike Pensacola has been named a recipient of a 2021 AARP Community Challenge Grant, one of eight grantees selected in Florida. The grant will support the Gonzalez Street Shareway Project in a one-day test of a shared corridor that will help connect people and neighborhoods across Pensacola by demonstrating a safe roadway where residents can walk, run, bike, and visit neighbors.
AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said, “We are excited to support Bike Pensacola as they test these improvements in their community, which will encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change. Our goal at AARP Florida is to support local efforts to build great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.”
Bike Pensacola will host a one-day, six-hour demonstration project of the proposed Gonzalez Street Shareway, a complete street shared among all users but with features to particularly encourage cyclists and pedestrians. Bike Pensacola identified this corridor as one of the only ones that is contiguous across town, due to the interruption of the Interstate 110 that was pushed through the heart of the city in the early 1970s and has divided neighborhoods.
The corridor features relatively low vehicle speeds and traffic counts with right conditions conducive to biking. The Shareway begins at the Brownsville Community Center, a new facility that is a hub of community activity, and the Shareway ends in the East Hill neighborhood at the City’s Bayview Community Center. Within a few blocks of the strategic route are dozens of schools, businesses, restaurants, churches, public and senior housing establishments. This route will connect two sides of town and bring together culturally diverse communities that all want safer road conditions. For the event, temporary traffic calming and beautification features will be installed. At each community center, Bike Pensacola and community volunteers will have information about the proposed Shareway and how they can help to support it. This project will ultimately require funding commitments from the City of Pensacola and Escambia County. The demonstration event will feature music, activities and fun along the route at parks and businesses.
The AARP Community Challenge Grant award will be used to hire police to staff busy road crossings, to complete a state road crossing permit that requires an engineer to certify, and for a traffic services company to install signage and safety features at major road crossings.
Across the nation, a total of $3.2 million has been awarded to 244 project grantees this year. Grantees will implement quick-action projects to promote livable communities by improving housing, transportation, public spaces, civic engagement, and connection with family, friends, and neighbors with an emphasis on the needs of the 50-plus. Many of this year’s awards support revitalizing communities adversely impacted by the pandemic and include a focus on diversity, inclusion, and disparities.
All projects are expected to be completed by November 10, 2021, and are designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:
Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets.
Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices.
Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions.
Increase civic engagement by bringing together residents and local leaders to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
Ensure a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
Support local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by emphasizing economic development, improvements to public spaces, and transportation services.
The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages. View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.