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Transportation for sustainable cities

GCBL staff  |  06/03/08 @ 10:00am

What is working for Ohio's transportation system and what needs to be fixed? How can the state promote more biking, walking and transit ridership (along with economic growth) in its billion dollar annual transportation budget?

The recently launched Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force will finally address these questions and more. If you would like to see your city put in bike lanes, better crosswalks and pedestrian zones, and funding for more buses, express yourself at a public meeting of the Task Force on June 17th (Cleveland) or June 24th (Akron). Even if you can't attend, you can fill out this online survey and let state lawmakers know what you think about the need for sustainable transportation.

The timing of this conversation may never be better. Higher gas prices are forcing us to do something about the cost of our commute. We hear from many who want better transportation options. Far suburbanites who want to ride their bike to work if they felt safer on the road. Inner-ring suburbanites who would use transit if it were more reliable or faster.

At this regional meeting we can tell ODOT and regional leaders that they need to work together. We need an integrated transportation and land-use plan like they're working on in Vancouver, Canada which is directing higher density development back into the core city. And we need a transportation system like Mayor Jaime Lerner created in Curitiba, Brazil which 2 million people use daily. It works because Curitiba is retrofitting with new pedestrian zones that support transit and remind their citizens of the pleasures of strolling through a city.

Many existing cities are reenergizing their local economy and culture with a major commitment to design their entire environment for people rather than cars. Ultimately, though, it will take more than policy to transform Northeast Ohio into a Green City on a Blue Lake. As Carl Elefante writes in this month's Metropolis:

The great challenge is how we make the communities we live in-fundamentally the way they are built today-sustainable and carbon neutral. Preservationists have known for decades that it takes hands-on, incremental even gentle intervention that draws on the talents of local workers, emphasizing skill over energy or material expenditure. This is the central tenet of the restoration economy?"

These issues, he concludes, are affected by our choices as individuals and as a culture.

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