Monday, September 24, 2012

CNU Transportation Summit

Sometimes I can kick myself.  Sometimes a marvelous opportunity is right in front of me and I overlook it.

At one time, I was considering a long weekend trip to Los Angeles.  I would have taken the Amtrak Coast Starlight into Union Station.  In Los Angeles, I would have used Metro to explore the urban area, south to Long Beach, east to Pasadena, west to Santa Monica.  And I would have caught a couple of ballgames before taking Amtrak back home.

But there were other events on my calendar and the plan drifted away.  Which was fine until I realized what I’d missed.  During the time I would have been in Los Angeles, the Congress for the New Urbanism was holding their Transportation Summit in Long Beach.  In a city that I would have been visiting anyway, I could have been attending a marvelous motivating three days.  My oversight remains a source of chagrin.

Instead, I was reduced to reading the enthusiastic tweets coming from Long Beach.  And the best I can do for you is to provide the best of those tweets.

Please note, not having attended, I can’t provide the data behind the statements below.  And some of the statements probably go beyond what the backup might justify.  But just being around people who believe the following quotes to be true would have been energizing, even if they were overstating their case.

Where I can, I’ve provided the speaker for the quotes.  But, the nature of Twitter being what it is, many of the quotes were tweeted without attribution.

Here goes:

"We have crushed the ability of children to move about in their own world."

“While fully fifty percent of children walked to school in 1969, fewer than fifteen percent do now.”

 “When you design your communities around cars, you get more cars. When you design around people, you get more people."

Peter Lagerwey: "100 million Americans don't drive. We can no longer ignore one-third of our population."

“How do we get mothers, sisters, and daughters to feel safe on bikes in cities?”

 “We should not be building ANY new automobile infrastructure."

“Driving is heavily subsidized.  Bike riders overpay to support roads by $250 per year; someone who drives underpays by $3,000 per year.”

“Who remembers the election when we decided streets should be designed for cars?  Nobody remembers, because it never happened!”

 “Hey, America.  Where's your class action lawsuit against 85 years of failed traffic engineering and millions of lives lost or ruined?”

Suja Lowenthal:  “Design streets and places for the most vulnerable users and you're truly making a place that's for everyone.”

“Transportation taxes are almost always about roads, roads, highways, and roads."

The plenary speaker was Mark Gorton, successful financial manager and founder of the website Rethinking the Automobile.  Among the gems in his speech were: “When the world is broken, reasonable people who say something's wrong sound ‘unreasonable’.”  “Restore human-oriented towns, strengthen and humanize downtown cores, and maximize livability.”  “We've accepted the mindset that the car is supposed to be dominant."  And “Transportation policies are subsidizing the destruction of our cities.”

Admittedly, some of those quotes go beyond what I believe or what I’ve been convinced is true.  But one doesn’t go to a conference to have one beliefs reaffirmed.  One goes to be challenged with new ideas.  I’m sorry I missed my opportunity to be challenged, but I’m already thinking about Pittsburgh in 2014.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (

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