By Thomas Fairchild
Is there anything more fundamental to the definition of being an American than freedom? Yet for the vast majority of Americans, large chunks of our day are dictated to us by having only one viable option for transportation: driving.
Like eating and sleeping, transportation is a reality of life. Whether for work, shopping, medical appointments or school, all of us must transport ourselves in order to survive. How we travel to these necessary destinations should be a matter of choice. Yet when we build our cities and roadways without considering options other than cars, our choice for transportation has narrowed to choosing between GM, Ford, Toyota, VW or whatever you want, as long as it’s a motor vehicle! That’s like offering a choice for dinner between McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Five Guys or whatever you want, as long as it’s a hamburger. Such a “choice” doesn’t feel like freedom!
Fortunately, times are changing across Northern Virginia. Transportation options are being expanded with new initiatives and strategic plans. A great example is VDOT’s current proposal to decongest car traffic on the I-66 corridor, which includes enhancements for transit, as well as new bike and pedestrian connections (For more information see transform66.org.) And the Fairfax Board of Supervisors recently passed a strategic plan offering a vision of transportation choice across the county with “comprehensive bike and pedestrian initiatives, bus and paratransit, road and intersection improvements and expansion of Metrorail and VRE.” The same plan also commits Fairfax County to “focus planning and development activities around the creation of mixed-use communities served by multi-modal transportation options” (For more information see FairfaxCounty.gov/success.)
Hurray! Choice is good for all. I encourage everyone to become engaged with these and similar initiatives across Northern Virginia as community involvement is crucial to planning successful new developments and creating viable transportation options. Working together, we will foster transportation freedom of choice across our region.
As we plan for the future, let’s not forget that for millions of young, lower income, elderly and disabled Northern Virginians, automobiling is simply not an option. Without viable alternatives these Americans lose their independence, becoming dependent on others for their basic daily needs. For these persons, transportation choice is a lifeline of hope.
I want to thank the @livemore editors for giving my City Version 3 colleagues and me the opportunity to discuss transportation options and mixed use development in periodic articles. Our backgrounds at City v3 range from starting bikeshare systems, to implementing mixed use transit-oriented development, to creating technology tools that assist users in navigating multiple transportation options. We look forward to engaging @livemore readers on these topics and more!
Tom Fairchild, is Principal at City Version 3, LLC – a Fairfax County-based company that promotes and assists localities and businesses to create transit oriented development options. You can follow Cityv3 @CityVersion3 & check them out at Cityv3.com.