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Reflections on #NACTO2024: Moving the Movement Forward

Jun 07, 2024

Scenes from the 2024 Designing Cities Conference in Miami-Dade County:

  • Peer sessions, dynamic speakers, and Walkshop tours inspire attendees to make their cities safer, more sustainable, and more equitable.
  • USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg hops on a bike to tour Miami’s Underline, Commodore Trail, and Rickenbacker Causeway.
  • Passionate panelists and participants stay 45 minutes past the official end of the “Not Just for Kids: Safe Routes to School” peer session for a lively Q&A.
  • A roundtable discussion gives transportation officials the chance to acknowledge the emotional tolls of public service, sympathize with their peers, and offer each other understanding and support.

Last month, over 1,000 transportation leaders, engineers, planners, advocates, policymakers, and community engagement practitioners gathered for four days of learning, sharing ideas, and making connections.

Our inspirational plenary speakers reflected on NACTO’s vision for transformative change – and the challenges that come with implementing that shared vision.

On 81 Walkshops, we explored the region on foot, bikes, scooters, and transit, and got a firsthand understanding of the infrastructure, history, and successes on Miami’s streets – and what still needs to be done.

In 34 peer sessions and roundtables, transportation officials from across the country – and the world – shared examples and specific tips on everything from asphalt art to implementing Vision Zero to how cities can partner with state departments of transportation.

We learned from everyone: Over half of our 100 member cities and agencies shared a discreet project or program at Meet the Cities: a time to connect and hear about successes and lessons learned for transformative change.

Key Themes

City practitioners are making powerful changes across North America. NACTO was founded on the belief in the possibility of transformative changes, and our cities are reaping the benefits of those transformations. Among these: Philadelphia has doubled bike trips while reducing total injury crashes by 17% with separated bike lanes. In Washington, D.C., one street’s bus priority and safety improvement project reduced speeding at school arrival and dismissal from 100 vehicles per hour to less than one. The City of Greenville, South Carolina has reduced crashes by 42% in less than 10 years with Complete Streets improvements. And, of course, Hoboken has had zero fatalities on its streets for seven years in a row!

Our ideas are percolating into state DOT and federal guidelines. Our cities shared their experiences advocating for better federal traffic control standards and celebrated the results: the new edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) makes it easier to implement NACTO design guidelines, set speed zones, install crosswalks, and use colored pavement markings. And cities are partnering with their state DOTs to improve communication, get the funding they need, and make streets safer.

Miami-Dade embodies the challenges and opportunities of North American cities. The county is addressing issues that are recognizable to many of our member cities: roadway safety, climate change, equity, housing demand, shifting travel patterns, a challenging political climate, and threats to marginalized communities.

Someone else is also working on it. In every peer session and roundtable discussion, we heard from cities large and small that are tackling similar issues: whether developing Safe Routes to School programs, managing the (many) demands at the curb, building an outreach team, or trying to improve your organizational structure, there are resources and examples for city practitioners of all stripes to draw from.

We can keep moving forward even when we face obstacles. Veronica Davis showed us how focusing on small successes if we can’t move forward with ambitious projects can begin to provide the momentum for that larger work. Can’t move forward BRT because of funding or lack of political support? Focus on improving bus stops, and plan for a future when you have the backing for transformative projects.

To-Dos for Conference Attendees

Did you attend the conference? Don’t forget to:

See You Next Year!

NACTO will host Designing Cities 2025 in Washington D.C., in partnership with DDOT – the District Department of Transportation. We can’t wait to see you there in spring 2025! While we don’t have exact dates yet, we’ll make sure to keep you informed. Stay tuned for future newsletters (or visit the conference website) for updates! 

Conference Resources


Visit the NACTO Photo Library to see photos from Walkshops, plenaries, peer sessions, and more! (Can you spot yourself?)


At our opening plenary, speakers welcomed us to the conference, challenged us to dream big, and reflected on the power of the NACTO coalition. We heard from: 

  • Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works Director and CEO Eulois Cleckley
  • NACTO Executive Director Corinne Kisner
  • Future NACTO Executive Director Ryan Russo
  • NACTO Board Chair Janette Sadik-Khan
  • USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg 
  • Executive Director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Jeffrey Tumlin
  • Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works Chief Innovation Officer Carlos Cruz-Casas

At our Wednesday plenary, Veronica Davis emphasized the progress being made in cities and states facing political obstacles, including high-speed rail moving forward in Texas, the successful Choose How You Move campaign in Nashville, and the popular Los Angeles ballot initiative to fund transit, walking, and biking. Hear her three tips for what to do when we run into obstacles in our work, listen to excerpts from her book, and watch her thought-provoking and funny conversation with Eulois Cleckley above.

At our closing plenary

  • Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla highlighted the success of Vision Zero in Hoboken, where there hasn’t been a single (yes, zero!) traffic death in seven years.
  • NACTO Director of Engagement Alana Brasier reflected on the week, quoting Asian American activist Grace Lee Boggs: “Movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass.”
  • Miami-Dade District 5 Commissioner Eileen Higgins shared examples of Miami-Dade’s work on road safety, climate change, equity, sustainable growth, and regional collaboration. She shared a bold vision for recreating livable, vibrant cities that connect people to opportunities.

Embeds above not working? Click here to watch our plenaries

Peer Sessions

Check out slides from our sessions here.

Meet the Cities

Check out the “Meet the Cities” poster library to learn what our member cities and transit agencies are up to.


View the full conference schedule.


Browse the conference attendee list (sorted by organization).

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