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NACTO in 2019: Cities Taking the Lead

Dec 20, 2019

2019 is coming to a close—the whole decade is ending—and it’s time to celebrate! Since 2010, NACTO—both our staff and the brain trust of our member cities—have put in countless hours to advance a vision of streets as safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable places. We’re proud of where we’ve come. Over the past decade, NACTO grew from a small consortium of city transportation commissioners to a leading voice in the effort to redefine the role of our streets.

To reflect on this year and the decade it bookends, we’re taking the time to look back on the major accomplishments from 2019 that help deliver on our mission: Supporting cities as they build their streets as places for people.

In 2019, we:

Welcomed eight new cities as NACTO members. As 2019 comes to a close, our membership stands at 71 cities and 10 transit agencies across North America. In the beginning of the decade, NACTO had just 15 member cities. (Wow!).

Held our eighth Designing Cities conference in Toronto, the first hosted internationally. Reaching capacity for the fourth year in a row, #NACTO19 saw over 1,000 participants from 175 cities, with 95% of speakers working in the public sector.

Graduated our second cohort of Leadership NACTO fellows, a strong, dynamic group of transportation professionals committed to improving their communities through critical and inspiring leadership.

Released six publications that codify the expertise and experience of our member network and help shape the conversation on designing, regulating, and maintaining urban streets. From the second edition of the Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism, a unique document in its candor and vision for how to foster people-first environments in an autonomous age, to Don’t Give Up at the Intersection, detailed guidance for designing all ages and abilities bikeway crossings, to the 2018 Shared Micromobility Snapshot, our annual comprehensive count of all shared micromobility trips in the U.S., NACTO’s 2019 releases complement our rich publications library and set a high bar for city transportation policy and practice.

Quantified some of the amazing work happening in NACTO cities in our second annual City Data Snapshot, an analysis of 2018 accomplishments, activities, and organizational structures across NACTO’s membership base. Across North America, NACTO cities are defining success by expanding their pedestrian, bike, and transit infrastructure in ways that make a real difference for their residents.

In 2018, the responding cities build 445 bikeway miles, bringing total mileage in these cities to 11,741 miles (that’s nearly 12,000 miles, or halfway around the circumference of the earth!).

And this work pays off. NACTO traffic fatalities are lower than the national average, with 7 people killed per 100,000 (compared to 11 across the U.S.). These results point to a known fact: defining goals and designing streets to match them makes our cities safer. Responding cities built 2,600 safety projects in 2018 and over 80% of them have or are planning to initiate road safety programs.

Partnered with cities across the country to reduce transportation emissions, helping them ramp up rapid implementation of bus and bikeway projects. Through the American Cities Climate Challenge, we elevated the state of practice for participating cities by producing 10 online events, leading two in-person design trainings (in Honolulu and St. Petersburg), and facilitating in-depth site visits and design workshops in our six Accelerator cities.

Throughout 2020, NACTO will continue expanding our reach and impact in the 25 Climate Challenge cities. With this, we’ll grow expertise across our peer networks and further strengthen institutional abilities across all of our member cities and transit agencies to quickly build lower-carbon transportation options and take climate action.

Connected city staff for conversations across peer networks. Through our listservs, webinars, phone calls, and in-person events we brought together practitioners to build knowledge and discuss design and policy questions together. This included events on Vision Zero street design (Sacramento), equitable outcomes in shared micromobility (St. Louis), and how to rapidly implement all ages and abilities bike networks (San José).

Trained city leaders around the world to install street safety transformations through NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative. Now in its fifth year, the NACTO-GDCI program has produced an array of impressive work around the globe, including in 2019!

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From events to design guidance to the impressive number of projects built in our member cities, we are struck by the collaborative nature of our field’s work. We reach the best results when we use our peers as resources; this is reflected in the high-quality Accelerator programs, publications, and peer network conversations NACTO facilitated over the year. To everyone who shared their experiences, expertise, or time to make our collective mission a reality, we thank you.

Here’s to your accomplishments highlighted in the 2019 annual report (pdf) and to everything we will accomplish together in 2020!

To the coming year, and the decade of effort and impact to follow,