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URBAN PLANNER

BYRON RUSHING

Byron Rushing is the Walking and Bicycling Program Manager at the Atlanta Regional  Commission (ARC), which is responsible for regional planning and intergovernmental coordination for the 10-county Atlanta region. He is also president of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. In 2016, ARC published “Walk. Bike. Thrive!” in support of the Atlanta Region’s 25-year regional plan with the goal of creating walking and bicycling options for everyone in every community in the region. 2

BYRON RUSHING
BYRON RUSHING

HIS ANGLE » BIKING & WALKING PROVIDE A SCALE FOR BETTER REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Walking and bicycling are healthy. They are good for  the environment. They provide low-cost travel and make communities more equitable. But most importantly for Mr. Rushing, an urban and regional planner, bicycling and walking provide a yardstick for how we should build communities. “Communities scaled [for biking and walking]–a few miles for bike trips and a few blocks for walking trips–are dramatically different from how we currently plan, but [this approach] offer[s] a myriad of benefits–even for people who can’t or won’t use their bike regularly,” Says Mr. Rushing.

HIS ANGLE » DATA TABLES ALLOW ACCESSIBLE COMPARISONS

Working for a regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Mr. Rushing spends most of his time on data: prioritizing, benchmarking, and measuring impacts. Each of those functions requires a thorough database of comparable facts to provide insight into national peers and to track progress locally. The Benchmarking Report has been foundational to Mr. Rushing’s work, a document he uses often to put his city and region into perspective within a national context.

Mr. Rushing identifies the biggest asset of the Benchmarking Report as the raw-number tables. Having easily accessible, comparable data–without too many agendas or filters–allows him to cut and slice information and answer the wide range of questions he receives from elected officials, planning staff, and the public. “There are times when we need to set numbers aside and make a moral or ethical decision about the need to invest in our communities,” he says, “but having facts to support an argument makes discussions a lot easier.”

2

Atlanta Regional Commission. Bike-Pedestrian Plan – Walk, Bike, Thrive! Available at https://atlantaregional.org/plans-reports/bike-pedestrian-plan-walk-bike-thrive/