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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

November 2007 Issue

Pedaling a Vision for Biking and Walking
A landscape architecture degree set the stage for a career in transportation planning.

By Joshua Gray

Pedaling a Vision for Biking and Walking

Pedaling through Washington, D.C.’s crowded downtown streets, Jennifer Toole, ASLA, looks like any of hundreds of bicycle commuters taking advantage of the city’s 26-mile network of bike lanes. But Toole isn’t just any urban cyclist—her company, Toole Design Group, planned these lanes and drafted the city’s bicycle master plan.

As motor vehicles labor slowly through the July heat, Toole glides past traffic, pointing out pedestrian and bike-friendly—and not-so-friendly—features of the municipal landscape. Colorful crosswalk designs embedded in the road surface, newly designed lane markings, difficult merges and road surfaces. No detail escapes her scrutiny, and her enthusiasm for livable communities that encourage people to abandon their cars is infectious.

Using her landscape architecture training, Toole has built an entire practice around an area many are just beginning to recognize. Toole Design Group (TDG) is among the country’s foremost practitioners of multimodal transport planning and design. Since 2001, TDG has assisted cities across the country in developing inclusive transportation solutions that encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

“Ten years ago, if you had asked me if you could build a business exclusively specializing in alternative modes, I’d have said ‘No way,’” chuckles Toole, but her firm’s success belies her statement. With a staff of 15, the company’s portfolio includes bicycle master plans for dozens of cities, including Seattle and Baltimore, Safe Routes to School programs nationwide, and bike and pedestrian trails in Virginia, Maryland, Colorado, California, and elsewhere.

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