The Air Expo and Strive Not To Drive Film Festival is two days away. At this point we are assembling the award packages and putting the final pieces of the event together. It also cause me to reflect a little on this years projects.
The sixty AQ-IQ and fifteen video projects make me hopeful. The projects illustrate that environmental and economic health are linked to choices made by individuals. It is clear that from an air quality perspective, transportation has the biggest effect on air quality and climate change. It should not be a surprise that today’s students are not only aware of the difficulties that car based transportation can cause, but they are also prepared to make choices that are good for multi-modal transportation.
On January 13 two blogs highlighted the importance of multi-modal transportation for our future. These blog were written by correspondents for the Wall Street Journal and Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation. Both blogs references studies that showing the importance of planning for a multi-modal future.
The Wall Street Journal Real Estate Blog wrote about the selling points of the homes that were being purchased by the millennial generation – people born after 1980. The blog highlights finding from surveys that show, “They want to walk everywhere. Surveys show that 13% carpool to work, while 7% walk, said Melina Duggal, a principal with Orlando-based real estate adviser RCLCO.” The article continues mentioning that one-third of the millennial individuals are willing to pay more for a home that provides the ability to walk to work, eat, and shop.
Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation wrote about the economy and transportation options in his blog Fast Lane on January 13, 2011:
“In this case-study, "Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure," the Political Economy Research Institute compiled data provided by the city of Baltimore. They found that on-street bike lanes and pedestrian measures created more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing.
That report was followed last week by a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating widespread public support--67 percent--in America's cities for street design activities that increase physical activity.
Putting the two studies together creates a powerful argument for continuing the Department of Transportation's support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. Even as these investments increase mobility, they also generate economic growth. And, people are demanding them for their communities.”
Viewing the student’s projects, along side of the blogs of important and influential people, gives me as an individual hope. The students who participated in the contests clearly are aware of the value of transportation options. There is clear evidence that shows the economic advantage spending public money on multi-modal transportation. The environmental benefits and health benefits are also clear.
Most of our air quality and climate change problems have occurred since the industrial revolution. During that time period many decisions that were made without a clear understanding of the consequences. Two centuries later we know better, and I am hopeful because of what I know we can accomplish as individuals, a nation and worldwide with a thoughtful and conscientious action.
I am confident that the young people understand the problem and the solutions. Emerging evidence is becoming more prevalent showing that a local green economy and multi-modal infrastructure are productive economically, environmentally more healthy, and provide a better quality of life. I am hopeful that we can prevent the worst that climate change has to offer, and the air will be cleaner and our future will be better.
Contact Keith Bamberger, NC Division of Air Quality, 828-296-4500, firstname.lastname@example.org