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Our Changing Times: Getting Around

This is the second the series˜Our Changing Times”. It is about how we are starting to alter our way of living in response to global climate change.Last time we talked about institutions changing in response to global warming. There is more to it that just corporate paradigm shifts. Changes are taking place at the local level predicated on how we live our lives. An example of this grass-roots type of change is in how we get ourselves from one place to another.Historically, we think of streets as a place for our family sedan or soccer-mom mobiles. Secondarily we seem to think about them as a way to move our goods and provide the services we need for the community and ourselves.What few of us think about is that streets are something that people walk on, along and over plus use bicycles in the same ways. This is changing in a major way not only along the cities of the Gulf Coast but nationwide. The influx of foreign labor has brought this home to most of us. We see these workers walking and biking everywhere. In some cases it is running because rather than walk a half-mile out of their way to cross a road at a crossing light they will risk dashing across. Not exactly what one would call a walking friendly or even walking safe city.With people looking for any way to save money by not driving, an increasing senior population exercising by walking and to help out with global warming our roads are going to get more crowded and not with just vehicles.In response to these changes, at first, concerned citizens then local and state governments began to get organized to do something about it.The movement to integrate pedestrian and bicycle traffic into the mainstream has gone by various names including road diet, calm city and narrow roads. It seems to have settled on ˜Complete Streets”. Complete Streets seeks to integrate vehicular traffic with walking and bicycling. The following link will take you to their web site where you can learn more on how this works http://www.completestreets.org.Many cities and states are looking at this method of getting differing modes of transportation to work together in a very favorable light include Tennessee, Virginia, South and North Carolina, Kentucky and Florida.One thing they warn about is overlaying this integrated transportation system on existing highways that aren’t able to handle it. This could create more problems than it solves – new roads, or highways that are being widened, at prime candidates for this type of traffic integration.Also, doubling up is not a good idea. This is making a lane of traffic such that both walkers and bicyclists use it at the same time. You are asking for accidents because people don’t seem to know that you bike with traffic and walk against it.

Think Global – Act Local!

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