NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Bike and Public Transit shopping?

Terry Lamphier, a G V Planning Commissioner has some, "Suggestions to improve traffic woes," July 11, 2005
A) Planners need to take a serious look at public transportation. Specifically, public transportation needs to be made free, expanded and pleasurable. Roofed waiting areas to hold off sun and rain are a minimum.
The cost of public transportation is not the issue. The issue is how people choose to live. The US Department of Transportation has been tracking public transportation usage since 1964. Study after study has shown, that public transportation does not go where people need to travel. These same studies show that once family income reaches $25,000 a year, they buy and old beater car, and never ride public transit again.
We also need to push making our community more bike and foot friendly.
With 20 percent of the County’s population over 65, and 71 percent living outside the city limits of GV and NC, I can just see our County elders biking the weeks groceries to their homes in the woods. Public transit does not go in to the woods where 71 percent of the people live.
B) Rethink the impact of the Nevada Union High School. Students contribute heavily to the most critical failing intersections. The rural nature of our community makes some bus rides excruciating long, and many students have after-school activities that make personal transportation important.
Consider a three part program:

1) Create parking lots outside of town, with free parking for students, well served by express buses to school;

2) ban off-site parking around the school;

3) use fee parking on campus (waived for students with special needs or after-school activities).

If you think the latest dustup on parent notification was big, try taking away student cars. Cars they have been deaming about for sixteen years.
C) Help the private sector to become pro-active. This, admittedly, is the most complicated and radical. The business community has a lot to gain by improving the traffic situation — less development restrictions, better access for customers, a more pleasant community in which to live.
Yes, those store owners are really looking forward to all those public transit and bike riders coming to town to shop. Why bother with the bike and public transit ride to GV or NC when Target, with great parking, is only 30 minutes away in Auburn. Soon a Home Depot. Fifteen minutes more the Rosville Galleria beckons. Just a little more time than it would take to ride public transit to Glenbrook, or go bike shopping.

Nevada County had a Transportation Management Association (TMA) to promote carpooling and alternative transportation, including transit in the early 1990s, but the business community gave it only lukewarm support and it was soon abandoned.
How could the idea be made to work? Those in the private sector could receive some sort of government recognized “traffic impact credits” for their contributions, which they could allocate/barter between themselves to be used when applying for development rights, building permits and the like.
How about giving builders that provide broadband access a “traffic impact credit.” Buildings and homes with broadband telecommunication access make fewer shopping trips and fewer trips to government offices.

I am a Transportation Commissioner speaking strictly as a private citizen and not as a representative of the NCTC.

UPDATE: A pdf of the DOT study on Rural Transit (here)

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