Build it and They Will Come
Updated: Jun 1, 2021
A Call for Active Transportation
Building Movement into Our Lives
Gary A. Oddi
It is time to ignite a new human-movement revolution in transportation! This is a call to focus on and fund active transportation, (any self-propelled, human-powered mode of transportation, such as walking, chairs – scooters, bicycling, …).
If you live in The Temecula Valley, getting stuck in traffic can be a part of your daily experience. Traffic congestion is one result of Suburban Sprawl and the reliance on cars. While all forms of alternative transportation can help ease the gridlock, active transportation can enhance our community with economic, health, and quality of life benefits.
Embracing Active and Alternative Transportation is not a war on cars. Emphasizing Alternative means of transportation infrastructure can restore the great traditions of automobiles and American Roadways, while also promoting other benefits. We depend on our cars to go to jobs, visit friends, attend our place of worship, do our shopping, access recreation, and haul our essentials and toys. Just going for a drive in our classic cars, convertibles, or the family SUVs epitomize the American Dream and California Culture. Alternative transportation infrastructure should be viewed as a way to make our roadways work efficiently again.
Embracing a movement to convert our roads, enhance our greenways, develop new active communities, and support accessible viable walking and biking infrastructure will free up our roads from stressful unproductive gridlock and change the way we think and feel about getting to our destinations.
Community leaders in Temecula and surrounding cities are getting on board. New projects, grants, and budgets are now being directed toward Active and Alternative Transportation. Other close by regions like San Diego and Orange Counties are achieving circulation infrastructure that supports all forms of transportation. Moreover, there is a rebirth of State and National movements that support a renewed focus on infrastructure.
It is inspiring to see, in a recent Reuters Poll, almost 8 in 10 Americans support the rebuilding of our antiquated infrastructure. Responding to this public outcry, President Biden proposed The American Jobs Plan, and both parties in Congress have made proposals for infrastructure. Unfortunately, the original proposal minimized the support of Active Transportation infrastructure. If passed in Congress, the legislation will only perpetuate an old way of building and repairing roads. Projects like repairing bridges, resurfacing roads, and adding lanes are necessary. However, these proposed infrastructure projects do not include the addition of cycling, accessible, and walking facilities. They ignore and continue to obstruct progress toward a 21st century infrastructure.
While the bill proposed by the President addressed the support of motorized transportation infrastructure, it would do little to build upon active transportation. An exceedingly small portion (less than 1% of the nearly 2.25 trillion dollars of the originally proposed infrastructure bill) was committed to active transportation. As the bill goes through bipartisan negotiations, active transportation is given little attention by both parties.
We are not alone in The Temecula Valley. In the last century, transportation infrastructure throughout California and across the country has contributed to an automobile culture fraught with the issues of urban sprawl and stress – ridden gridlock.
For more than 100 years, when it comes to infrastructure in the United States, transportation projects have been about roads, highways, and freeways for cars, trucks, and buses. With the advent of the Model T Ford in 1908, the American highway system started down a road that drove right past trains, discarded bicycle transportation, eliminated pedestrians, and opened the era of cars, trucks, and buses. The mass production of autos led to the Federal Aid Highway Act in 1921 and then The National Highway Act of 1956. Though much needed at the time, these highways have greatly contributed to pollution, harmful effects on human health, fatalities, increased flooding, blighted depressed neighborhoods, decreased social capital, loss of wildlife and open space, and taken time away from our family and friends.
To change this trend, adequate funding should be provided to build walkable/bikeable urban, sub-urban, and rural communities that give people viable, safe, accessible, and low – stress options to commute, recreate, and do business. A greater emphasis on an active transportation infrastructure would boost the economy, slow the damaging effects of climate change, improve health, and ultimately enhance the quality of life.
The time has finally come for Americans to understand what Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg knows. In March, Buttigieg proclaimed, “I’m part of this administration because I believe in the moment we have. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity right now to build our entire infrastructure and economy back stronger than it was before. … I think walking and bicycling play really important roles in that.”
Sadly, according to the World Economic Forum, The United States’ transportation infrastructure is currently ranked 12th in the world. By shifting our focus to viable active and alternative transportation, our country will become more connected, productive, healthy, and motivated. Committing substantial resources to active transportation is a call to action that assures our country will again become a world leader and a model for 21st century transportation infrastructure.
We can do our part at the local level. Our “CALL TO ACTION” is to support our local leaders when they act on projects and programs that make all forms of transportation better. We can get out and walk, run, ride a bike or any human powered vehicle on one of our trails, facilities, or well - constructed sidewalks. Advocate for Alternative and Active Transportation whenever you can. We can come together to make this amazing place we call home, even better!
See you on the road…