29 August 2010

FIFTY PERCENT


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Portland Oregon / photo by Doug Joyce


To pick a number, I think that the City of Pasadena where I live should make a goal of cutting automobile and truck travel by 50%.

A number of good things would happen if that were to take place. It would improve the environmental quality of the local area, while reducing its 'carbon footprint'. It would take the press off engineers to move more and more traffic through the street grid. It would be more pleasant to be on the streets; right now my city has the personality of a lot of vehicles moving through. Half the vehicles would make for a better personality.

Over time buildings would be less costly to construct relative to what they are now. Parking is unbelievably expensive; about $45,000 a car in 2010 dollars. We wouldn't need as much parking. It would be a less isolated place, because people would be out from behind the wheel and out on to the streets, getting to know each other; sort of like it was 100 years ago.

There still would be cars and trucks and the trips that they take. They still work well for many things; they just would be the sole means of getting around.

For most, a reduction in vehicle trips is an almost a laughable proposition. Nearly everything we do here in Pasadena outside the home involves a car. Here are a few of my ideas.

BICYCLING

A lot of Pasadena is pretty flat, and the weather is nice much of the year. It should be a great place for bike use, traveling to work or school. There is an active cycling community, but those who use it for everyday transportation are few and far between. Frankly, you need to be a very capable and street-wise user to remain safe. Something to be overcome.

The community seems to recognize this, and bikeways and public acknowledgement are slowly coming. You now have to provide a bike rack for every new building built. Things like electric assist bike to help with the hills we do have are also a help.

CENTRALIZED PARKING

A considerable amount of car traffic comes from getting from place to place in a small district, just doing errands and the like. Add the folks trolling for parking or just roaming around looking for a stall, and you have a fairly substantial increase in traffic because you don't have a pooled and defined parking facility for that district. Top it off by the fact that centralized facilities make for tie-ins to other transportation means, and you can see how effective this way of dealing with car storage impacts a neighborhood. And multiply it across the community, and we're further along towards our 50%.

LIVE NEAR WHERE YOU WORK.

If really given the option, how many of us would just as soon walk to our business rather then dealing with the automobile commute everyday?  In the book
'The Option of Urbanism' by Christopher B. Leinberger, the desire for this type of lifestyle throughout the world is on a marked increase. Every urban community needs to have a place where someone can do that.

KEEP MAKING THAT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SO THAT IT'S EASY TO GET AROUND

It should be as easy or easier to get around on a public conveyance

COME UP WITH DIFFERENT IDEAS FOR DEALING WITH THE BULKY AND INCONVENIENT.

Remember delivery services?

There are other strategies; rethinking school transportation, making communities easier to walk in, and on and on. Not every community could do 50%, but a few are already a good way there already. Imagine 50% less cars and trucks in your community.

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