Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A few simple facts

How do we define then repair the damages that our auto-based culture has created? First step is fully defining the problems, their causes and their effects. Oh and a few simple solutions too.

  1. We live in a culture of speed and to hell with everyone else it seems. Everything associated with the way we develop our highways leads to more and faster flow. Level of Service (LOS) crawls up to level D or F and we build our way out of it at a cost of billions each year while the cars themselves haul hardly more than one person each. If we filled the cars with people every rider would mean one less car on the roadway. 2 people per car almost 100% less traffic, 3 people per car almost 200% less traffic and so on. LOS is related more to our driving attitudes than our roadway needs.
  2. We have only one roadway system and it has many users and uses. The road is a public utility for people to use, vehicles to use and courtesies and laws to be respected. Issue is most individuals and most enforcers of the rights and laws have minimum understanding of them. Roads are now a biological battle ground with  powerful motor vehicles abusing non motorized vehicles rights and rules.
  3. Around a million people are killed on roadways worldwide each year. In the USA we kill about the same amount of people each year that the Vietnam war killed over its full term. For children traffic is the most likely way they with die and or be injured. Traffic trumps all other diseases and accident types. For an adult up to about age 39 traffic is the most likely way to perish. Over 50% of people using wheelchairs were put there by traffic related crashes.
  4. We all begin our day as pedestrians, we all are pedestrians even while driving our vehicles we are pedestrians. The sadness is we are under trained pedestrians. Looking, seeing and understanding the dynamics of the traffic and traffic patterns could give us great skillsets in and around traffic. But also as important it would give us the understanding of pedestrian needs and an ability to fold  the pedestrian into our trafficked world as the person with real needs he or she is. Knowledge is power and understanding but our 3 generations of auto culture, speed culture and power has diminished our ability to be human. This was not with intention it was by default and there are ways of correcting it.
  5. Humanways not highways, just changing a word, a POV can have deep and long lasting effects. Our trafficked culture is still in adolescence, be it an ugly one, but still in its infancy. We can alter our perceptions by playing with words. A word about to hit us front and center is PEAK OIL. This is the time that fuel prices outpace income and availability becomes questionable. If we do not humanize the roadways and courtesies and encourage same road, same rules, same good attitudes we will be left stranded at our homes up to our neck in debt and without a way to get around. Efficient cars are one thing, efficient minds are another and both are key to survival.
  6. 30,000 feet, if each and every one of us used alternative transportation for trips under 30,000 feet everything would change. At the present time almost 50% of auto trips are less than 50,000 feet. These auto based trips would disappear and health would reappear without doctors or drugs as we mounted our cycles and hoofed it some. Mount Everest is 29,035 feet and you could be your own Everest thinking up, up the mountain and to the end of the breathable atmosphere at the top of the world.  Laying it all, 30,000 feet of it out in front of you to conquer. The bicycle is king of these 30K trips and under and often outpace auto in city competitions.
  7. Reality is that the need for health and dollars will drag us from our autos one day. I am a motorhead too, but a pragmatist also. I dislike being left behind or trapped in old ways that dysfunction today.  Oiltopia lead to suburbia and the need to drive. Health and dollars will lead us to a way to thrive. Greenways and trails, liveable communities where retail and residential are mixed are all thriving. People out active self police their own world displacing that that is abnormal by simple presence. The world is changing, we are changing evolving constantly still. We are learning too what is good, right and sustainable, mother nature still bats last.    
  8. Key to a new way of dealing with travel or the journey is being skilled at the ways needed to effectively understand the real options then to apply them safely. Journeys from Home is a skill based program that begins in Kindergarten and follows through 5th grade. It empowers children to be competent, confident and predictable in and around traffic. It provides honest insight into traffic and the journey providing choices by way of hands on experience. Instructor certification is required and a 2 day workshop is available. If you change the world of a child you change the world. Empowering children makes for great adults. Once the cycle is broken choices can be seamlessly implemented into our culture. Fact is if all our school children were empowered and self dependent by the time they were adults the entire traffic system would naturally become a Humanized one with Humanways and multimodal users. It is simple but takes a new way of thinking.  

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