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