Urbanism and Resort Communities

Sarasota, FL skyline. Source: Patrick Braga via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve spent the better part of last week in Sarasota, Florida, on Lido Key with my family to attend a wedding for my sister-in-law. Much has been written about sprawl throughout Florida or the housing crisis. What interested me was the urbanism I had found near the resort I stayed at, most unexpectedly.

St. Armand's Circle, looking west towards Lido Key.

The urbanism I’m speaking of was found on Lido Key and neighboring St. Armand’s Key. John Ringling (of Ringling Bros. fame) and Owen Burns purchased Lido Key, St. Armands Key and neighboring Bird Key in the 1920s and began a development scheme which eventually failed in the 1929 stock market crash. St. Armand’s Key has in its center, Harding Circle, shopping district oriented around a beautiful roundabout, which has been recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the pictures, you may notice several features celebrated in new urbanism and planning circles alike: roundabouts, landscaped sidewalks and pedestrian treatments, all imposed on a grid street pattern.
These types of urban environments in resort communities are few and far between. I treasure spending time in these environments.

St. Armand's Circle pedestrian crossing. Source: Thoralf Schade














See how the landscape treatments separate cars from pedestrians? This allows more intensive pedestrian uses of the sidewalk like this cafe. Source: winterwhiteiris


It has been a while since my last post and there has been a lot going on. I’ll be brief but I expect to be writing on the following topics in the next couple of weeks.


You may be wondering what kind of connection beer has to transportation and land use. I’ve been wondering the same thing and I’ll have some information up soon. As an avid home brewer, I am very much interested in the burgeoning craft beer scene in Chicago and I intend on examining why. As in, does urban form have any affect on the location decisions of craft brewery start-ups? Are there any agglomeration effects? Does public transit play a role? We’ll see.

Transport Chicago

I have been involved with the Metropolitan Conference on Public Transportation Research (aka Transport Chicago) for the past four years in various leadership and committee  posts on the steering committee. The conference is tomorrow, so please, sign up if interested. This year, I will be moderating a session on transportation safety in the context of pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicular users. Someone you may know, Steve Vance from Grid Chicago, will be presenting. Post conference, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on my session and the rest of the conference.


I’ve been traveling lately. Last week to Wisconsin. Next week to Florida. I’ve got some ideas on both…to be shared soon!


We’ll see about this one, but I think it’s worth mentioning the effects zoning has on land use and transportation decisions. I’ve been realizing that some of what I have been talking about on the blog may be obscure to some of my readers and some basic definitions are involved. Zoning is a critical planning tool in land use development and this might be a good jumping off point into discussions of broader land use and transportation policy. Look for additional posts on transit-oriented development, public transit and other land use and transportation related policy briefs.