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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Meet Nathan George, the City's New Sr. Planner – Bicycle, Pedestrian, and ADA Coordinator

Accessibility and multi-modal transportation continues to be a top priority for the City of Denton. To continue and expand the efforts for improving and building infrastructure that is safe and convenient for diverse modes of transportation, the City’s Capital Projects/Engineering Department recently welcomed Nathaniel “Nathan” George as the Senior Planner – Bicycle, Pedestrian, and ADA Coordinator. The City’s previous Bicycle and Pedestrian role, that Nathan now fills, was expanded to include both accessibility and mobility needs of the City’s residents who travel without a car. Nathan will provide vital input on City plans and projects, including the Mobility Plan, Park Trails Master Plan, 2012 Bike Plan, ADA Transition Plan and numerous Capital Improvement Projects that are planned around the City.

Nathan comes to the City with nearly 20 years of transportation and site design experience. He most recently led a bicycle and pedestrian planning and design practice with a consulting firm in Washington, DC. During the more than five years in this role, he supported communities with planning new active transportation facilities, and provided technical input as designs were prepared. Prior to that, Nathan spent eight years in a traffic design role, where he honed intersection design expertise, including addressing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) criteria.

Nathan has hit the ground running since joining the City in mid-July, but we caught up with him to learn a bit more about him and his plans for multi-modal transportation in the City of Denton.

What about the City of Denton attracted your attention?

The rail trail was the first thing that caught my eye. I’ve been riding on trails since before I could ride a bike, you could say my parents were a big influence on my career in that way. As I started to explore Denton, it was very exciting to learn about the Universities, both because students tend to travel around campus without a car, and because our family loves the arts. The downtown square and local music scene the sort of things we were looking for after a year of having little access to any live events.

What really sealed the deal was as I explored interest of the community and City leadership to improve opportunities for safe and convenient travel on foot and by bike. That shared vision is a critical ingredient in doing this work, because you still must build consensus of how we’ll change our streets to create these opportunities. Several recent projects demonstrated a willingness to test new ideas and balance priorities, themes that I will continue to explore as a member of the Capital Projects team.

What type of impact do you hope to make?

Pedestrian safety has been my focus for about a decade now, so improving conditions at our most challenging street crossings will be a big win. There are also opportunities to connect our existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities, so they form a complete network. These are the two critical ingredients that will make active travel or recreation an option for the average user, a sense of safety and comfort. The third ingredient is people, so we have to focus these facilities where our residents and visitors are located, in their neighborhoods, and to the places where they travel. We’ll still include facilities in our projects, what we call “low hanging fruit”, but I’ll also be looking for opportunities to direct our pedestrian and bicycle projects where they will provide the most benefit to the community.

When you are not working, what do you like to do?

I have two young kids, so any time outside of work tends to be family time. The past year was fantastic, because I was able to spend so much time with them. Watching sports and traveling are also favorite pastimes. Having the Stars nearby ensures I can see my favorite team at least once a year, and cheer for the hometown the rest of the season. As for travel, every day around Denton is a new experience, and we’re excited to explore places nearby, or new places we can reach more easily from DFW.

What drew you to the Sr. Planner – Bicycle, Pedestrian, & ADA Coordinator role?

I’d been searching for a community that is looking to elevate their bicycle and pedestrian program, so naturally the position hit on the top of my job search list. Over the past 5 years I’ve led a bicycle and pedestrian practice for a consulting firm in Washington, DC. We had the privilege of supporting municipal clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast with planning and design of new and innovative facilities. As our practice expanded to support clients across a broader geography, I found myself wanting to invest my energy in one place. Joining the City of Denton offers me the opportunity to contribute my specialized experience, and make an impact on one community, my community.

What’s one interesting thing you’d like the Denton community to know about you?

Most weekends, at some point, I can be found behind a grill. How could I forget to mention that in my answer above? Yeah, I like to BBQ. Now I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no pit master, but I do love to grill, smoke, and I received my first multi-fuel pizza oven for Christmas. There’s an art to landing a well-prepared meal on the table from the grill, a mix of timing and temperature control that is not for everyone. I also like to seek out the best preparation of any grilled food. Now that I’ve moved to Denton, I’ll be scouring for the best Texas brisket. Recommendations are always welcome, and even if our tastes do not agree, we can all celebrate the journey to locate the perfect brisket!

Any other information you’d like to share?

I’d like to commend Julie Anderson and Marc Oliphant, who each held this role at the City previously. Their work was instrumental to establishing a successful bicycle and pedestrian program and setting the foundation for Denton’s active transportation network. I’ve also recognized in my first few weeks in the position that my new colleagues in Capital Projects have continued to deliver critical sidewalk and bike lane projects while the position was vacant. A job well done by all, but the work is not finished, and I look forward to writing the next chapter.

To get in touch with Nathan, email Nathaniel.George@cityofdenton.com.

Source: City of Denton

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