Outstanding Public Interest Group: Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation
The work of Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation (GCAT), and its allied organization, Gators Against Student Pedestrian Deaths work resulted in an effective planning and advocacy effort to change the street design and traffic enforcement along a major state highway that is a boundary of the University of Florida campus.
GCAT is a citizen-led coalition advocating for active transportation in Gainesville and Alachua County. The group is a nonprofit social welfare organization formed to advocate for complete streets practices that promote cycling, walking, disability access, and transit through education and advocacy for a safe and convenient network of multi-use trails and streets.
Gators Against Student Pedestrian Deaths, a group organized utilizing Facebook, formed in response to roadway deaths in late 2020 and early 2021, now includes 2,600 members including UF students, parents and community members. Marches were organized at UF to increase visibility.
Following the tragic deaths of two UF students, these two groups were instrumental in creating a planning document: #NotOneMore: A Call to Action for Pedestrian, Bicyclist & Motorist Transportation Safety in Gainesville and Alachua County. This work formed the basis for a focused and continued public advocacy efforts by UF students, parents, and community members, facilitating several multi-modal safety projects within Gainesville and in particular adjacent to the University of Florida. The groups’ use of social media allowed rapid communication of the planning goals and time-sensitive information, recognizing the critical path nature of planning work.
The organizations continue to collaborate with the City of Gainesville and its professional consultants serving as a pragmatic citizen “sounding-board” for a Complete Streets study. Perhaps most importantly, GCAT and its partners have mounted an effective political advocacy campaign that has gotten the attention of state officials and garnered cooperation with the Florida Department of Transportation at a level that has not previously been achieved in the Gainesville area. Their advocacy does not solely focus near the campus but is community-wide with a strong awareness of the need for equity and access in underserved parts of Gainesville.