Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Michael Ronkin At The ATC

The second in the Envision Transportation speaker series was Michael Ronkin, who spoke on Thursday, October 28. Ronkin spent 26 years with the Oregon Department of Transportation, the last 17 years as Bikes and Pedestrians Director. Oregon was the first state in the country to adopt a Complete Streets statute, in 1971. Ronkin's talk was on Complete Streets.

Complete Streets incorporate all modes of transportation: motor vehicles, mass transit, pedestrians, bicycles, etc. Under a Complete Streets statute, the burden of proof falls on government planners to justify why a given mode shouldn't be included in a new road design or revision of an existing roadway. Complete Street design works from the outside in, rather than the traditional center line outward.

Factoids from Ronkin's talk:

1. A poll by Rails and Trails found that Americans would put 41% of transportation funding in mass transit, 37% in roads, and 22% in bikes and walking. The actual is 79% roads, 20% transit, and 1% bikes and walking.

2. Would you choose a restaurant based on speed alone? If not, why have we been making speed paramount in transportation planning for the past 50 years? The paradox is that the faster we've tried to move, the longer our travel times have become. (Uh...we're doing something fundamentally wrong.)

3. Ronkin stated that traffic engineering is the only profession where you're asked to fix the very problems you've created.

4. Multimodal streets increase home values and revitalize retail.

5. 21% of those over age 65 don't drive, and 50% of non-drivers stay home some days solely due to lack of transportation options.

6. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends Complete Streets as a tool in fighting obesity.

Virginia enacted a Complete Streets law in 2003. The hitch is getting traffic engineers to break their old habits.

The next series speaker will be Dan Burden, on Thursday, November 4 at 7 P.M. at the ATC. Burden will speak on "Community, Walkability, and Livability". Burden was once named Social Innovator Of The Year by Time magazine.

(Sorry for the delay in posting. However, I had the NAACP Banquet on Friday, worked Saturday - Monday, then worked the polls yesterday on Election Day.)

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