Friday, May 21, 2010

MPO's Business As Usual?

Posted By on Fri, May 21, 2010 at 9:00 AM

(Blatant plug: This week, I wrote about the University of Memphis Livable Mid-South conference on transportation for our print issue. You should pick it up while you're out and about, OR you can click here.)

The Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has moved into the next phase of its Imagine 2035 process. Now that the first round of public meetings is complete, the MPO is going to draft three different drafts of its land-use and transportation plan.

The first will show how things will develop if the area takes a "business as usual" approach, basically how development will continue for the next 25 years if we stay on our present course.

The second draft will show alternative scenarios, and the third will be the ideal scenario.

From what I recall, Nashville did this several years ago with Cumberland Region Tomorrow's Report to the Region and found it very helpful, especially comparing the "business as usual" approach to the ideal one.

The Report to the Region was published in 2003 and laid out the results of the 2001-2002 Regional Visioning Project showing how the 10-county region was growing and what could potentially happen if we continue to grow with business as usual planning and development practices.

Apparently, seeing where they were headed was enough to convince citizens that changes needed to be made.

Locally, the MPO should come back with its scenarios — and the next round of public meetings — in August. In the meantime, you can find them on Facebook or you can contact the MPO for a "meeting in a box."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day!

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 8:45 AM

Like Aaron Woolf says, I know transportation isn't the sexiest topics, but in terms of economic development and people's quality of life, it's really important to think about.

Do I really have to list the reasons why? No? Good.

Last week, I took a trip to Chicago, riding a double-decker bus from MATA's north terminal on Main Street to Union Station in Chicago to get there. On the way back, I took Amtrak. (Amtrak was much better than the bus, but it was also about three times as expensive. The bus fare was *very* affordable.)

Random vacation picture of Millennium Park. Are you jealous yet?
  • Random vacation picture of Millennium Park. Are you jealous yet?

While I was in Chicago, I also took a cab, grabbed a few rides in cars, and used the L every single day. Oh, and there was a lot of walking.

I think the only other means of transportation I might have missed was bicycling. But I have my chance to make up for it tomorrow when it's national Bike to Work Day!

Downtown is all over this this year, and the Center City Commission has organized several meet-up locations for people who want to ride with other people into downtown (let's be honest. If this is the first time you're riding a bike into work, it might be more safe, to hit the road with other people.)

Meet-ups are at Eastgate shopping center, the Brooks, and Otherlands. There is also a bike-to-work energizer center at Main & Greenlaw, and a bike-to-work event at Court Square from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

(Now all I have to do is find someone to loan me a bike.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Short Auto Trips the Norm

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 8:30 AM

For our print edition this week, I wrote about the recent Livable Mid-South conference on transportation at the University of Memphis.

One of the speakers, Marianne Fowler, works with the national Rails-To-Trails Conservancy. The group is currently promoting the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010, which was introduced in Congress in March and would establish competitive funding for walking and bicycling improvements in targeted communities.

I think we all know how much we, as a nation, drive. But I thought it was interesting to hear how much of those trips are actually quite short. (And maybe even walkable or bicyclable?)

Twenty-seven percent of all automobile trips in this country are one mile or less.

Forty-eight percent are three miles or less.

"It's not our fault," Fowler says. "We live in an environment where that's almost required."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Transportation Imagination?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Attn: Cyclists, Public Transportation Users, Pedestrians, Motorists, and Light-Rail enthusiasts:

The MPO, the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization, begins its new long-term transportation planning initiative this month. I know, I know, it sounds like a snooze-fest, but it's really important, especially if you want to give input into how people in the region will get around for the next 25 years.

Imagine 2035 will stress the need to coordinate transportation and land-use planning and show where new growth and development is likely to occur.

“This process will give our community the chance to discuss the ‘what-ifs’ of our metropolitan area, and consider the trade-offs between how our community grows and the transportation decisions needed to support that growth,” says Martha Lott, MPO administrator.

“This is a great chance for the community to not only see what our region might look like 25 years from now, but also take an active part in shaping its future,” adds Brett Roler, IMAGINE 2035 Project Manager.

The first meeting is next Monday, April 19th, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Arlington Town Hall. To see the list of the rest of the meetings, click through.

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