Lionel Metz, again active after all the e-wheels

 

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is one of the firsts to recognize that we must begin speaking with the public about our ideas and perceptions of traffic. In a series of Citizens Congestion Forums in winter 2011-12, they began the process of communicating with taxpayers. This step, I submit, is the beginning of behavioral change.

In a March 2011 Washington Post, the health effects of the new, rapidly growing number of electric bicycles around the world illustrates potential for the elderly and commuters. Editors eliminated discussion of the congestion, pollution and global warming aspects but a half dozen riders are profiled in their “help up the hills” and “no sweating” joy.

Other media who recognize the value of eBikes include InTransition, The Hook and Thinking Highways.

EBuses come every five minutes on Chattanooga's three-mile downtown loop.

In the November 2010′s Thinking Highways,the real world of electric vehicle transportation is envisioned through the eyes of the nation’s second oldest electric bus system. As we move headlong into promoting electric cars, we’re forgetting that there are good reasons gasoline-powered vehicles dominate the roadways.

Moving biking from recreation into transportation

 

How does a community arrive at the most sustainable form of transportation, the old-fashioned bicycle, when all the politicians, all the planners, all the citizens have grown up in an auto-dependent culture?  How do, indeed, do we get there from here? Thinking Highways.

Other media who recognize the value of bicycling transportation include The Richmond Times Dispatch and The Hook. Thinking Highways goes a step further and wonders if making driving cheaper — through less expensive auto imports – will hurt the society more than it helps the poor. Boston, and other cities, have discovered “bike share.”

Keeping meter money very local helps customers promote their communities.

Surprisingly, Americans rarely think about the cost of parking our 251 million vehicles but if we do, as Pasadena CA has, we discover something counter-intuitive.  Charging for local parking increases — not decreases — nearby business revenues and can be a huge factor in revitalizing run-down areas.

As the president, and others, promote rail as the future of passenger transportation, Americans forget that we’re already paying the rail freight companies — who own the actual steel rails — to take trucks off our interstates.  What happens when irate Amtrak passengers sitting on sidings begin to call their congressmen at the same time businesses cannot get their goods delivered on time?

As the authors of the book “Nudge” put it, politicians, planners, bureaucrats and businessmen have no incentive in America to address the audience’s lack of knowledge or foresight.  Hence, when asking politicians and rail promoters about the coming conflict inherent in simplistic rail thinking, they rarely provide forthright answers. Indeed, political solutions can often be Kafkaesque.

As a long-term advocate for rational transportation funding and projects, besides practicing what I preach, I also present solutions and address local issues..

Part of the issue is that we have a quantitative transportation planning culture which begins with any road’s “level of service.” We heard a lot a couple years ago about federal stimulus money being spent on mass transit. However, in the first round of federal dollars, Uncle Sam furnished $28 billion to highways, $8 billion to mass transit and only $400 million to bike-ped. Since the vast majority of any area’s “Transportation Improvement Plans” concern a road’s level of service — or number of cars it carries compared to its original design — needless to say, almost all the “shovel-ready” projects built more roads. How does one battle that quantitative culture?

Meanwhile, our drive-first culture creates the demand for more oil and for more cars.