Transportation Bonanza! (Fun Friday Five: March 22, 2013)

What a DAY yesterday was! I drove through snow to Lansing for the Michigan Planning Association’s Fourth Annual Transportation Bonanza conference. And for once, I felt like a fish IN water! It was great. You’ll be hearing much more about what I learned there in the future.

But today I’m beat. So instead of a linky list of things I ran across on the web this week, I’m going to give you five things I heard at the Bonanza. Here we go.

One.

~”A dollar spent on beer provides three to five times more return to the local economy than a dollar spent on gas.”~                             –Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute

(Remember when we talked about the superellipses and other forms of creative punctuation? I invented this one – “~. It’s called the “quasi-quote.” It means that this is really close to what the speaker said… but my pen couldn’t quite keep up, so it’s not quite a direct quote. It’s a quasi-quote.)

There are loads of benefits to living in a place where you can wander down to the local watering hole on foot. You burn off some of those beverage calories, you don’t pose a risk of public harm on the way home… AND far more of your dollar is returned to the local economy than is the case in buying gas to drive to the pub. Most gas money leaves the community; most local pub money stays there. The economic benefits of the pub crawl. Use responsibly.

Two.

We’ve reached a point where productivity now tends to DECLINE with increased mobility! In other words, the data is showing that wider-bigger-newer roads are hurting, not helping us. What’s more – related to this? – transportation agencies don’t have a mechanism for discussing the overall affordability of a project. A good combination, yes?

Three.

If you live in a livable, walkable community your risk of death by traffic is just 25% percent of that of someone living in the suburbs. Yes, read that again. And note that I live in the suburbs. “For Sale” sign coming soon.

Four.

Here’s the reason we talk about all this stuff. It’s not about the vehicle or method of transportation, it’s about the people getting around.

And that includes…

  • law-abiding drinkers
  • youths 8-18 (20% of the population)
  • seniors over 70 (10% of the population and climbing)
  • motorists who want convenient parking
  • people with a disability that prevents them from driving (3-5% of population)
  • low-income families
  • people who walk or bike for enjoyment or health
  • residents who don’t want pollution
  • motorists who want to avoid chauffeuring non-drivers
  • pets who walk for enjoyment or health

Which means that it’s essential for us to consider ALL the different ways of getting around, not just cars, in order to allow basic independent access to around 30% of our neighbors.

(this is directly from Todd Litman’s presentation again)

Five.

Demonstration train line coming this fall! It’s not yet set in stone, but some fine people are working behind the scenes to make a Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids train run happen this fall. How fun is that? Stay tuned!

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