Transportation doesn’t just mean cars or trucks—or just bikes, buses, and walking. Transportation is all of those and more, and different modes are better suited for different people, different stages of life, and different tasks. But in America our “transportation system” is more often than not comprised mostly of highways and roads designed solely for cars, with little space for people. The essay below is a personal reflection on how transportation needs and desires change, yet our transportation system often makes it challenging and dangerous to get around without a car.
Portland, Maine has begun to develop a regional bikeshare program thanks to initial technical assistance provided through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.
Portland’s Planning and Urban Development Department applied for EPA’s 2013 grants under the leadership of Jeff Levine. Portland residents, Mr. Levine noticed, already had a strong interest in alternative transportation.
“There’s a big commitment in Portland toward the environment and sustainability,” said Levine. “The challenge is providing an infrastructure that can help people to meet that goal.”
Residents were interested in a bikeshare program, but Portland needed a catalytic event to kick-start the project.
EPA’s workshops and forums, conducted earlier this month, jumpstarted the city’s efforts to implement a bikeshare program. Mr. Levine believes EPA’s time in Maine brought a necessary and “strong focus on the issue”. Residents and local officials participated in the sessions strategizing how Portland can make a bikeshare program a reality. With the project underway, Portland and the project’s supporters now must develop a business plan for a bikeshare program.
Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare has soared in popularity since it started in 2008. The easy-to-use service has gathered 14,000 annual users and over 40,000 day users during that time. The video above from Streetfilms and the National Association of City Transportation Officials discusses how DC-area residents and visitors alike have taken to the service.
Bike lanes and sidewalks don’t just make streets safer and more convenient – they’re a good investment of transportation funds, too. A new report from the Policy Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that public investments in pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure – including sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails – create more jobs per dollar spent.
The report finds that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects create significantly more jobs than infrastructure projects for cars alone. According to the study, bicycle projects create 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested — 46% more than car-only road projects. Job creation potential decreased as infrastructure dedicated to automobilies increased:
Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million, and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.