Thursday, September 15, 2011

Evolving the Way We Think about Transportation

Article: Tom Downs, Demographics as Destiny,, Sept. 3, 2011, available at

Summary: Mr. Downs discusses the impact of changing demographics (Baby Boomers and Gen. X and Y) on suburbia. He suggests that "walking, biking and transit are about to become the next wave of transportation to shape our urban areas," which requires us to evolve our thinking about transportation:
It ultimately comes down to how we think about the use of the public right of way. Most successful regions start with mapping the way people are walking, biking and using transit in the same way we used to count cars: Look at the flow and the demand. Plan sidewalks with walking in mind. Repair the sidewalks that are falling apart. (It is actually pretty cheap to do.) And how about transit that allows riders to track buses and trains in real time on their cell phones? How about bike accessible transit? How about signal coordination for buses? How about setting a goal for the percent of commuters who bike to work? Most planners say that their weather is not conducive to biking, but the second highest percentage of commuters who bike to work is in Minneapolis (winter) 3.4 percent. Portland, Oregon (rain) is, of course, first with 4.5 percent.

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