Charles Marohn of Strong Towns has long been an advocate of transportation reform. In his new piece, he argues that our present moment may be the perfect time to enact the changes we need:
Those who experience traffic deaths as a chronic killer base their acquiescence largely on what they perceive as the prohibitive cost of change. They perceive that they will be forced to sacrifice some enjoyable aspects of modernity—such as convenience of daily travel—in order to experience a reduction in fatalities that may not even happen. They also perceive that any changes will be excessively expensive, a real cost they will share.
The economic slowdown accompanying the pandemic provides an opportunity to dramatically shift these understandings. Everyone is experiencing life with less daily travel, with fewer routine trips. We’ve adapted and made due, and for many, the lack of a long commute has improved their quality of life. The gap between theory and reality has never been smaller.
And the financial motivation to change has never been greater. Our cities are insolvent. Their tax revenues have taken a severe hit, as has the capacity of their families and businesses to pay them. We’re going to be looking for ways to cut costs and improve returns. Narrowing lanes, reducing pavement, planting trees and boulevards, and generally making streets calmer and more walk-bike friendly will reduce costs and improve property values.
The time to act is now.
He continues with a short, step-by-step plan on how we can achieve it.