Tag Archives: transportation

People Power plus Tech Support Enhance a Community: The NoVi Trail Network Story

Filled bike racks at Wolftrap Elementary in Vienna, Virginia

Many are puzzling over how digital technology can be designed to work more for us than against us. But countless such tools already exist to do thatit’s just a matter of how we use them. This is a personal example of how individuals orchestrated our public-serving governmental entities and digital creations to improve a community’s quality of life.

On a beautiful day in 1999, a few years after we moved to our newly-built suburban neighborhood near Washington, D.C., I got the urge to walk with my six-year-old son to a nearby park.

This was no ordinary destination, but the serene and meticulously cared-for Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, the only such facility in all of northern Virginia.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Though barely a mile long, the walk itself was tough. We fought through tall grass along winding Beulah Road—surely trespassing on other people’s yards. As we trudged ahead, we noticed a trampled area, replete with the fresh detritus of a car accident.

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Planning Better Walkable, Bikable, Drivable Streets

Crossing guard and kids

Let’s say you’re taking charge of your health and want to walk every day in your neighborhood. Or, you’d like to teach your kids the self-reliance skill of biking to school. Well, if sidewalks aren’t there, or you don’t feel comfortable using them, achieving those goals won’t be possible. That’s why the attitude of the public agencies who plan streets and sidewalks really matters. The health of a community is literally in their hands. By baking in the opportunity for exercise on sidewalks, lanes, and trails, they also build a healthy population.

Only recently has transportation been directly linked to health. Research now proves  Continue reading

Portland, Oregon: Why Being Weird is Good for People

intersection

Share-it Square in Portland, OR

In Portland, Oregon, they bike naked in the streets, hold laundromat happy hours, and neighbors adopt their intersections. The place is weird – which is a boon for the people who live there.

I learned a lot about the City of Roses, along with planners, politicians and policy makers, at the International Making Cities Livable conference. In his keynote, Portland mayor Charlie Hales ticked off some of the many ways his town makes its people the priority.

  • Spending $1 billion on the Willamette River so it’s clean enough for swimming
  • Giving every high school kid a free transit pass
  • Removing a riverfront highway to make way for a park

Hales says Portland’s land use and transportation policies “render freedom less dangerous.” With less time worrying about being hit by a car, Portlanders appear to be spending more time coming up with new ideas.

One such resident is 26-year-old Morgan Gary. Continue reading