DEAR EDITOR: CAMBRIDGE, MA AND BURLINGTON, VT
The lead Boston Globe editorial last Sunday touted Cambridge, MA instituting a new paradigm of pushing developers and existing businesses and institutions to reduce parking and incentivize non-driving behaviors—and the startling result that the community prospers, car traffic is down and all the benefits from reduced parking spaces needed, pollution reduction, etc. come along for the ride.
This Blog for a few month pointed to the various program initiatives, studies and statistics—all leading to the same paradigm. Behaviors and a long term factors create a growing latent citizen demand for transportation change from carcentricity. Yes, the success of roundabouts, demand for bicycle facilities, and community bike rental systems, and rapidly growing public transit usage--all reflect contain the kind of benefits which enables and spurs this new paradigm to thrive.
The letter sent on Monday, August 20 is as follows:
“The University of Vermont, Champlain College and Fletcher Allen Health Care employ a third of Burlington's (VT) 30,000 workers. This troika reduced solo driving by about 14 percent over the past decade, so you can change behaviors of folks anywhere with some simple incentives, new services and cooperative approaches ("More buildings,fewer cars help drive economic growth," Editorial Aug.19)--here in Vermont less cars, the same buildings!
A small office, Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA), with a staff four serves the troika institutions. Everything from regular drawings for merchant gift certificates for those walking and bicycling to work, discounted or free use of the transit system, and even private car share assistance for students to leave their cars at home rather than keeping them on campus--all contribute to the success in reducing solo driving and moving workers and students to alternatives to the solo drive. Note New England states average car travel growth 2000-2010 hit an all time low of 3 percent with more states this decade likely to join Rhode Island which hit a negative number. In Burlington during the last decade, low fare commuter buses began and now 46 buses daily ply three corridors into Burlington. Lots of factors at play here, such as decades of stagnating wages, new transit services, and old time incentives. The sanctity of solo driving really ended some time ago and the next step for Burlington clearly involves starting commuter rail services.
When it comes to moving away from cars, we are long past the hope and hip deep in the change.”