Monday, June 19, 2017

Dr. Margaret Banyan honored as 2017 Complete Streets Champion of the Year

On June 17th, BikeWalkLee presented Dr. Margaret Banyan with the 2017 Complete Streets Champion of the Year award.  BikeWalkLee, along with the larger transportation world in SWFL, owes a great debt of gratitude to Margaret for her decade-long efforts to put complete streets and livable community principles into action.

Issued June 17, 2017
Contact: Darla Letourneau, (239) 850-3219,

BikeWalkLee, a local community coalition advocating for complete streets in Lee County Florida, has selected Dr. Margaret Banyan, FGCU Associate Professor and a founding member of BikeWalkLee, as the 2017 Complete Streets Champion of the Year for her outstanding contributions to taking complete streets and livable community principles and putting them into action in the real world -- academia, government organizations, and local communities throughout Southwest Florida--for more than a decade.

Dr. Margaret Banyon
 “Today we honor Dr. Banyan as an outstanding champion of complete streets and livable communities in multiple capacities throughout Lee County over the past decade." said BikeWalkLee’s Darla Letourneau. "As one of the founding members of BikeWalkLee, we also honor Margaret for incredible contributions to our organization since it was founded in 2009. Many of our successes would not have been possible without Margaret," said Letourneau. 

Dr. Banyan's impact on the community is considerable thanks to  the various "hats" she wears and how she has used the synergy of those roles to introduce, educate and implement the concepts of complete streets, livable communities, a balanced transportation system, transit and transit oriented development, integration of transportation and land use planning, and community engagement. She has the unique opportunity to bring these ideas to both the future generation (i.e. her students), to government agencies and officials that make decisions on these issues, and to make them part of citizen community planning efforts.
BWL's Dan Moser presents award to Margaret
As the lead faculty for FGCU's land use planning certificate, she has trained and mentored many up-and- coming staffers and leaders in regional governmental and nongovernmental agencies and organizations. 

As a consultant to many local cities and community planning organizations, Dr. Banyan has worked to incorporate the principles of complete streets and livable communities into the fabric of the local government policymaking. Those many consulting projects gave her an opportunity to train her students about the real world of public administration and public policy, encouraging many to continue their careers in this field and to consider staying in Southwest Florida.

From her FGCU seat, she organized many seminars and workshops with national experts to introduce new ideas to our area, bringing in the area players from academia, government, consultants, advocacy organizations, community groups, along with students.

Friends and colleagues at Margaret's award presentation
She also played a critical leadership role on many government committees and task forces, which allowed her to move complete streets ideas into recommendations for government action:

  •  Within FGCU, she served on several committees to advocate for better bike/ped facilities, improved transit on campus, reconsideration of parking policies, and incorporation of these concepts into the Campus Master Plan. 
  •  She was chair of the county's Smart Growth Committee, which drafted the county’s Complete Streets Policy in 2009.
  •  She remained as chair and member of the reconstituted committee, the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee, as well as a member of its Complete Streets working group. 
  •  She was the Chair of the Tice Planning Community and worked tirelessly to improve the community and to develop its capacity and interest in citizen engagement.
  •  She also worked as a consultant on the development of the Community Plans for Buckingham and North Captiva, and provided her planning expertise to several Fire Districts.
  •   She was a member of the MPO's Citizen Advisory Committee and played a key role in the development of the Long Range Transportation Plans. She was a respected expert on transit and spoke at numerous MPO Board meetings on transit and related land use and transportation planning issues.
  • She was also selected by the MPO Board in 2015 to be part of its team to participate in the prestigious national Transportation Leadership Institute, focused on innovative uses of performance measurement for transportation investments. 
  •  She was chosen to be a panel member on the National Academies Panel on Livable Transit Corridors. She also served on the FDOT statewide committee developing its 2060 Plan.
CS Award Trophy
As an FGCU facility member, she successfully pursued grants for complete streets/livable community projects that would provide opportunities to partner with others in the community as well as provide opportunities for her students to participate. The awarded grants ranged from the national technical assistance grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the walking audit and community engagement in the Tice community, to Health Improvement Assessments in Tice funded by the Centers for Disease Control, to the joint BWL/FGCU/Goodwill partnership that received a Southwest Florida Community Foundation grant to conduct walking audits in the Tice and Dunbar communities as a community empowerment and civic engagement tool.

"Over the past decade, Dr. Banyan's leadership and commitment to the complete streets movement has left a legacy of accomplishment, and an impressive group of talented young leaders who will carry the complete streets/livable communities movement forward into the future," said Letourneau. "BikeWalkLee is deeply grateful to Margaret for her many contributions to making our community a better place, and to being a key part of the BikeWalkLee Steering Group team from the beginning."

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