Monday, December 10, 2012

Transportation Modes

We seem all wrapped up in roads these days and we always come around to the question of "how do we get cars off the roads and get pedestrians and bikers on them?" yet we never question the underlying assumptions: pedestrians good; bikes better; cars bad. Unfortunately Dunwoody has more than its fair share of Luddites who cannot get past the antiquated idea that roads are purpose-built for cars and other motorized vehicles. To them it seems obvious, but those wanting to take their fair share of the asphalt away from cars see things differently.

Perhaps it would facilitate discussion if we could properly characterize transportation as one of two categories: destination transportation and recreational transportation.

Destination transportation is that antiquated fossil-fueled ICE driven modality, emphasizing effectiveness and utility over more important things like "it's good for you". Basically, destination transportation means automobiles. Parking. Commerce. Getting there, getting it done, getting back.

Recreation transportation is about the journey. Scenery. Fresh air. People contact. Basically, recreation transportation means "human powered". Walking, running, and biking. Not swimming yet, but plans are afoot to install a network of swimming canals throughout the 'Hood. Rumor has it a former mayor has a plan to freeze the canals so we can ice skate to and through the Village, much like what is done in Ottawa. Except their water just freezes.

The simple fact is we're not about to see grocery shoppers pedal up to Publix and Fred and Ethel are not going to waddle on over to Hickory House. And back. Weather, hills, and yes, automobile traffic make this less than unlikely. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with recreational walking and biking but let's be honest, only a very small percentage of human powered locomotion is for anything but recreation (while it is a stretch, we're considering exercise "fun").

The real question we need to address is just how much of our taxes (and yes, grants and other OPM) do we want to spend on recreation transportation and what are we willing to sacrifice with regards to destination transportation?