These streets weren’t made for walkin’ - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

These streets weren’t made for walkin’

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:00 am

Several officials came to the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington last week fresh off a visit last month to the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen. What they saw was promising, a couple quipped (independently of each other), and they weren’t talking about anything that went down inside the delegate hall.

Everywhere in Copenhagen, they saw an ideal solution to the co-dependent problems of climate change, auto congestion, poor land use and public health. Everywhere, there were Danes biking.

“I know it’s not just because the Danes are nicer people than we are,” said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board. “They have really done things and spent money to make this happen.”

In the Netherlands, said an admiring Federal Transit Administration deputy administrator Therese McMillan, bikes are actually afforded the same road space as cars!

It’s easy to imagine the auto-obsessed Americans’ backlash to such a policy here, carving unnecessarily wide bike berths out of roads too crowded for the cars they were, umm, originally intended for. In America, the predominant relationship is an adversarial one: Bikers versus drivers. In the Netherlands, most drivers would probably rather be on bikes, too, if they could.

Implicit in these wistful anecdotes is an engineering conundrum in America (the opposite of the behavioral fix proposed in the Idea Lobby earlier this week). How do we make it possible for people to commute by “active travel” — biking, walking, or biking and walking, to the subway — when just about everything we’ve built to date has been designed around cars?

“Unfortunately, the existing built environment isn’t helping us,” Nichols said, “and it makes it much more difficult and expensive to meet those goals.”

This isn’t just a matter of engineering lithium-ion electric car batteries, but re-engineering whole communities. If you live in certain urban areas, you may have seen a prototype: the trendy mixed-use development arisen out of an abandoned industrial complex complete with condos, restaurants and metro access

Advocates of “transit-oriented development” stress, though, that they’re not just talking about Starbucks on the ground floor and yuppies up above. Such communities should provide within car-free access practical necessities from a dentist’s office to a real supermarket. And the local residents ought to include not just people who don’t want to use a car, but those who can’t: the elderly, the disabled, the unlicensed and low-income workers.

This kind of development today makes up only about 2 to 5 percent of the housing market. By 2030, estimated Mariia Zimmerman, the vice president for policy with transit-oriented development advocacy group Reconnecting America, it’s projected to make up a quarter of demand.

Building such communities will require thinking simultaneously about challenges we’re accustomed to tackling separately. Transit officials will have to work with agencies such as Housing and Urban Development. And policymakers will need to recognize the benefits of transit-oriented development not just for the environment but also for our health.

A study published in the British journal “The Lancet” in December made just this point: Some of the greatest public health benefits associated with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it found, come not from curbing pollution, but from the uptick in exercise that would follow a less auto-oriented lifestyle.

New Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced at the TRB meeting’s culminating luncheon what amounts to a major policy shift in this direction.

“Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability, rather than hinder it,” he said. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live.”

The previous criteria only asked: How much will a project shorten commute times, and how much will it cost?

 

Emily Badger is a freelance writer living in the Washington, D.C. area who has contributed to The New York Times, International Herald Tribune and Christian Science Monitor. Her column appeared first in the online magazine Miller-McCune.com, an arm of the nonprofit Miller-McCune Center.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Why Is The City Allowing Luxury Condos On Public Land In Crown Heights?

Max Rivlin-Nadler A A Earlier this week, Slate Property Group backed out of a deal that would transform the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heig…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 5:34 pm @ http://www.villagevoice.com/news/why-is-the-city-a…

Trump scraps Ariz. event originally slated for immigration speech

Ballot Box feed By Mark Hensch Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump scraps Ariz. event originally slated for immigration speech Doctor waited until l…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 4:53 pm @ http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-r…

Mom dies during family outing on a Utah lake#

A 33-year-old mother has died while rescuing her two-year-old son who had fallen into the waters of Lake Powell, Utah, from a boat they were t…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 4:02 pm @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760318/Mo…

Social Media Helped Build, And Tear Down, A Standoff Against The Government

It was a protest of only about 100 people, but a crowd of any size gathered outdoors in the freezing January temperatures in Burns, Oregon, wa…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 4:01 pm @ https://www.buzzfeed.com/salvadorhernandez/social-…

BLOG: For many Valley football fans, the ArenaBowl-bound Arizona Rattlers were their 1st love

The year was 1992. It was four years since the Cardinals arrived in the Valley via St. Louis. Arizona sports fans had yet to fully embrace the…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 3:52 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/sports/sports-blogs-local/blo…

Trump’s campaign CEO ran a secretive sci-fi project in the Arizona desert

Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he held a much different job—as the acting director of Biosphere 2…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 3:52 pm @ http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephe…

Phoenix VA Medical Director Deborah Amdur announces retirement

PHOENIX - Phoenix VA Medical Director Deborah Amdur announced her retirement Friday, citing "personal health reasons." Just this week, Amdur's…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 3:49 pm @ http://www.12news.com/news/local/valley/phoenix-va…

Donald Trump cancels Phoenix speech on immigration, other topics

PHOENIX — That was a short-lived appointment. Just 48 hours after announcing a speech in downtown Phoenix, Republican presidential nominee Don…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 3:52 pm @ http://ktar.com/story/1250662/donald-trump-cancels…

Donald Trump cancels speech in Phoenix on Aug. 31

PHOENIX - Presidential candidate Donald Trump has canceled his speech in Phoenix on Wednesday, Aug. 31, according to sources close to his camp…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 3:51 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/cen…

these are the 10 biggest marine reserves on the planet

Commentary and analysis shaping our Global, Regional and Industry agendas Read more Read more Read more Read our reports on the broad range of…

Published: August 26, 2016 - 3:32 pm @ https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/these-are-t…

Facebook

ahwatukee.com on Facebook

Twitter

ahwatukee.com on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to ahwatukee.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px

Most Popular

Online poll

Loading…