A Low-Cost Way to Improve Walkability

Orlando, Florida

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


In May 2007, Orlando's (Fla.) Transportation Planning Division was working with a local business, Dandelion Communitea Café, to install bicycle racks to meet customer and employee demand. Dandelion also asked, "What else might be done to address some issues along the street, such as landscaping and lighting, to make the street more inviting?"


Thornton Avenue is a short street one block from the intersection of two state roads. Bracketed by an elementary school and a major artery, the street contains small businesses in converted single-family housing and acts as a buffer between an historic downtown residential neighborhood and a very active commercial area. The eclectic corridor includes an independently-owned hobby shop, restaurants, a yoga studio, food co-op and community herb garden, several doctors' offices, and after-school and summer programs. This business district has a diverse customer base that lives in and patronizes the neighborhood.

Looking north on Thornton Avenue, "before" view.

Image: Malisa McCreedy


The Transportation Planning Division organized a team of partners and stakeholders that included Thornton Avenue business owners, the district's city commissioner, Orlando's transportation director, city engineer, and staff from the Business Development and Parks divisions. This group participated in a site visit to study what was wanted and/or needed along the corridor.

Dandelion Communitea Cafe: This business urged the street renewal and recruited business owners and customers to help with plantings.

Image: Malisa McCreedy

A city landscape architect created several options for the corridor. After reviewing these, the final two choices were to move parking to the center of the street or to retain parallel parking next to the curb. Because of safety concerns for pedestrians with parking in the center, it was decided to keep parking next to the curb. Both options proposed resurfacing the road, adding striping to slow down traffic, landscaping the parkways, adding murals at a few key locations to create color on the back of the commercial buildings, painting buildings to cover graffiti, and adding street lighting.

The Green-Up Orlando program provided a low-cost option to add plants to the streetscape. The program is designed to stimulate improvements to public places in neighborhoods through volunteer efforts and contributions. Drought-tolerant new plantings were included in the project design.


A community herb garden in the foreground with trees waiting to be planted in the boulevard.

Image: Malisa McCreedy

Resurfaced roads, repaired sidewalks, 50 volunteers, 12 businesses, 32 trees and several gallons of paint changed this neglected street into an inviting, walkable place. The neighborhood is proud of the results, and the project has spurred local businesses to work together to maintain the street. One of the conditions of the Green-Up program is that property and business owners are responsible for watering the new landscaping.

Volunteers planting trees during the Green-Up.

Image: Malisa McCreedy

Staff from six different city departments were involved in this project (Economic Development, Planning, Transportation, Public Works, Neighborhood Services, and Parks). With so many partners, the challenge was to keep things moving from one department to the next. Getting buy-in at the outset from the district commissioner and department directors helped with this issue. The project was completed in about 14 months.


There was no budget for this project. Existing city programs were used to create a more inviting and walkable environment at a low cost, by pulling the right people together and getting a commitment from property and business owners.

Cost elements of the project:

Road resurfacing$25,000
Sidewalk replacement where destroyed by trucks$5,000
Lighting audit and additionFree (Orlando Utilities Commission)
LaborGreen-Up Volunteers
PaintDonated by local businesses
Landscaping materials (trees)$3,000 (donated by a local bank)

Web sites

City of Orlando Green-Up Program:

Dandelion Communitea Café


Malisa McCreedy, AICP
Parks and Recreation Planning Manager
City of Orlando
595 N. Primrose Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32803
(407) 246.4317

Image Source

Malisa McCreedy

Filed in: Plans and Policies

Back to Search Results