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Turning to the longer-term transportation policy, we need to consider that over the next 50 years the U.S. population is expected to rise by over 60 percent, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to quadruple. As our population grows, and as incomes rise, the demand for transportation will grow accordingly. The question is how will we respond to this demand?

Since 1970, there has been a 173 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT; the total miles traveled by all U.S. vehicles), while the population grew 47 percent. In other words, VMT increased at almost four times the rate of population growth. Notwithstanding some anticipated reduction in VMT growth in the near term, reflecting the current downturn in the economy, this growth trend is clearly unsustainable.

In the past, population and economic growth have always led to large increases in highway travel. This is because most communities’ have built transportation systems that only allow people and goods to move by road. This Administration believes that people should have options to get to work, school, the grocery or the doctor that do not rely solely on driving. We want to transform our transportation system into a truly multimodal system with strong alternatives to driving in order to maximize highway capacity, combat traffic congestion, reduce our reliance on oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

-Ray LaHood,  Secretary of Transportation for President Obama in testimony before the Committee on Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security

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One Comment

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Lets see how our own Fen Dot is responding to this challenge from the current occupant of the little house across from Lafayette Square. Horizon 2060 is Fen Dots long-term transportation planning process going on now. (Check it out at 2060ftp.org). In it they neatly define their challenges and opportunities and they provide the current 2025 Long Range Transportation Plan as a basis for their work. Great. Except Biking and Walking gets little to no consideration and inclusion as a viable, reasonable or correct alternative to solving the transportation crisis this Plan predicts and we have come to expect. If these plans are a blueprint to avoiding gridlockageddon, where is the love for those who do get around without contributing to the cancerous growth of the VMT?

    We currently have plans, and the plans are for more plans, for expanding access and capacity to the transportation system through enhancements to our seaports, highways, rail lines, airports and spaceport (!). For Bike/Ped: we have no plan. And from what I see in their fancy PowerPoint slides they are saying in 50 years we still won’t have a plan that incorporates non-motorized transportation into the mix. But we may have a nice accounting of the bike racks scattered around the state, (Miami Beach has such a plan). And thanks to Rails to Trails we will have an “inventory”, i.e. map of multi-use facilities, but no plan.

    Where is the love?

    Look carefully at the Secretary’s words: “This Administration believes that people should have options to get to work, school, the grocery or the doctor that do not rely solely on driving.” Two of those best options, Mr. Secretary, are biking and walking.

    The mindset of our transportation planners must change and the actions of the bureaucrats and politicians must start to match their rhetoric for there to be real impact in avoiding gridlockageddon. The focus must shift to municipal mobility, not getting mail to Mars. 50 years ago it was much easier to get around our cities and towns to do the things the Secretary mentions. The transportation policies we have relied on until now have gotten us in the mess we are in, where one can not bike along or walk across Alton Road or Biscayne Boulevard without risking life and limb and using public transportation labels you as a “loser”. All our planning and growth and development from the past 50 years have made walking and biking NOT an option for most people. At least here in District Six. There is no great system of local streetcars and circulators anymore. GM, Fen Dot and local policies did away with that. There is no little to no enforcement of the traffic laws regarding bicyclist safety and far few complete streets with demarcated bike lanes and wide sidewalks with well-lit crossings to promote, hell, just make possible, getting around here with out a car. All that would have been possible, had we planned for that 50 years ago. Heck, less than 10 years ago, we had a good chance of having a streetcar on Miami Beach today.

    We gotta plan better, man. Show me the love.

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