Something we could use in Phoenix

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I stumbled across Transportation Alternatives as they were being discussed on a design blog I read, and as I dug in, I thought “this is a pretty good idea, why don’t we have a strong group for this here?”.

Our Mission is to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile, and to advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives.

Transportation Alternatives was founded in 1973 during the explosion of environmental consciousness that also produced the Clean Air and Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency. Since our founding, T.A. has helped win numerous improvements for cyclists and pedestrians and has been the leading voice for reducing car use in the city. T.A.’s roots are in bicycling, and many of our members are everyday cyclists. But winning a cycling-friendly city means changing the overall transportation system, which, even in mass transit-centered New York City, is still dominated by the private automobile.

T.A. seeks to change New York City’s transportation priorities to encourage and increase non-polluting, quiet, city-friendly travel and decrease–not ban–private car use. We seek a rational transportation system based on a “Green Transportation Hierarchy,” which gives preference to modes of travel based on their benefits and costs to society. To achieve our goals, T.A. works in five areas: Bicycling, Walking and Traffic Calming, Car-Free Parks, Safe Streets and Sensible Transportation.

Green Transportation Hierarchy

Of course, lately I’ve heard positive things about more and more people riding their bikes, and I’ve certainly seen an increased number of bike riders, and Light Rail commuters, this year.  Perhaps I’m completely ignorant to a local organization that is already responsible for all of this.

But it never hurts to get the word out.

America Loves Transit

Posted: April 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on America Loves Transit

The graph above comes courtesy of Transportation for America’s recent comprehensive survey.  Of course, I’ve been writing quite a bit this month about our road systems, urban living, and the effects commuting can have on our lives, and according to T4A, it looks like the vast majority of Americans can at least agree on one solution: better mass transit.

Of course, when you say “mass transit” a lot of people in our part of the country think about dirty buses with smelly hobos urinating on the seats and/or trying to karate-chop you.

The reality, though, is that mass transit is whatever we fund it to become.   As American’s, we’ve been fed the “lure of the open road” and “the ultimate driving experience” in 30-second highlight clips for decades.  We could all probably name some features that we consider “must-haves” in an automobile we were looking to purchase (power windows, sun-roof, cruise-control, seat warmer, cocktail mixer, etc), but how long would you have to think to come up with a list of must-have features for mass-transit?

The charts above and below show that a lot of people agree that mass transit is a good idea, especially if we put our tax dollars to fund it.  I don’t know the math behind federal funding for mass transit, but I’m sure it could benefit from some of the programs being used for endless highway build-outs.

More than four-in-five voters (82 percent) say that “the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved transportation system, such as rail and buses” and a solid majority (56 percent) “strongly agree” with that statement. This is a widely held view with overwhelming majorities of voters in every region of the country and in every type of community. Fully 79 percent of rural voters agreed with the statement, despite much lower use of public transportation compared to Americans in urban areas.

When asked about reducing traffic congestion, three-in-five voters choose improving public transportation and making it easier to walk and bike over building more roads and expanding existing roads (59% to 38%). […]

These same respondents would prefer to almost double the allocation to public transportation, saying that 37 cents of every federal transportation dollar is what they think should be the norm. Fully 59% of the electorate cite some amount that is greater than what the federal government currently spends (18 cents or greater). (source)

Think about it, we’ve debated health-care and lack of insurance and how hard it is for working class Americans to get the things they need in life over-and-over-again for the last year.  Here’s a solution that can attack a basic factor in the problem:  Make it easier for someone to get to work/school, and they can use it to get to a better place in life. Instead of addressing the symptoms, let’s attack the disease.

(This is Day 16 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge, be sure to check out the other participants at #30DayBC)

Road Zombies (Yes, it’s a real thing)

Posted: April 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Recently I wrote about freeways and about how much I love urban life.  Then today, while going through my feed reader, I came across an article on TreeHugger talking about “Road Zombies” and “extreme commuters”.

According to census data, there are more extreme commuters than ever, with 3.4 million of them just in the U.S., a number that is up 95% since 1990….. This is what economists call “the commuting paradox.” Most people travel long distances with the idea that they’ll accept the burden for something better, be it a house, salary, or school. They presume the trade-off is worth the agony. But studies show that commuters are on average much less satisfied with their lives than noncommuters. A commuter who travels one hour, one way, would have to make 40% more than his current salary to be as fully satisfied with his life as a noncommuter, say economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer of the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics. People usually overestimate the value of the things they’ll obtain by commuting — more money, more material goods, more prestige — and underestimate the benefit of what they are losing: social connections, hobbies, and health. “Commuting is a stress that doesn’t pay off,”

Consider the costs involved in commuting: fuel, vehicle maintenance, extra day-care costs because of your commute, less leisure time, impaired eating practices…the list goes on.

To be perfectly honest, I first enjoyed this article because I thought it validated some of my arguements.  But then I got to thinking, and realized how happy I am to know that I don’t have stress levels that suburban commuters do.

I’ll take my city life with street-lights and parks and coffee shops and the occasional hobo over your big lawns and lives spent in cars anyday.

(This is Day 15 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge, be sure to check out the other participants at #30DayBC)