Smart growth strategies can create transportation systems that better serve more people while fostering economic vitality for both businesses and communities. These strategies include creating transit options like buses, trolleys, subways, light rail, street cars and ferries which accommodate more travelers in the same space and create better options for getting between home, jobs and stores. Streets designed for all kinds of travelers make neighborhoods safer and more appealing. And investments in road maintenance, rather than new construction, cut expenses, concentrate development and benefit the environment.
People want more transportation choices, whether it’s to save money on gas, to get into shape by walking or biking to their destinations, or to have a more relaxing commute. Communities can provide these choices by making it easy for residents and visitors to drive, walk, bike, or take transit. Large or small, every community can use smart growth techniques to give people the freedom to choose how they get around.
Smart growth transportation strategies create economic opportunity.
Smart growth transportation strategies are, above all, a fiscally responsible investment that cost less to build and maintain, can help towns save money by reducing infrastructure costs and generating higher returns on investment. Investments in smart growth transportation strategies create new jobs, help more workers get to employment and foster regional economic growth. Road and bridge repair create more jobs than new road construction, and Smart Growth America’s analysis of 2009’s federal stimulus revealed that funds spent on public transportation were a more effective job creator than funds spent on highways.
Smart growth transportation strategies help families, too. The average American family spends more than 50% of their household budget on housing and transportation costs combined, and that’s simply too much. Smart growth transportation strategies help reduce that cost and help families prosper.
Smart growth transportation strategies make roads safer.
Smart growth strategies make streets safer and easier to use for everyone, including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit riders, as well as children, the elderly and people with disabilities. Changes to street design like enlarging sidewalks, installing medians and adding bike lanes are simple but yield huge reductions in traffic accidents and fatalities.
Subways or other rail systems may not work for smaller communities, but transit still plays an important role. Many communities use bus systems to supplement transportation choices. In Missoula, Montana, bus lines take people almost anywhere in the city. Students at the University of Montana ride for free, and businesses can arrange for employee discounts. While cars are still an important part of most Missoulians’ lives, the bus helps ensure that when people can’t or don’t want to drive, they can still get where they need to go.
Smart growth transportation strategies are more efficient and reduce congestion.
Providing multiple routes and multiple types of transportation are both key to an efficient transportation system. When our streets are connected in a complete network, we can choose from many different routes to get from point A to point B, and we can get there faster and more easily. Providing access to public transportation reduces congestion by carrying more people in the same road space. Reducing congestion makes commutes easier and is more efficient for businesses. Nationwide, the cost and time lost from traffic congestion would be 15 percent worse without public transportation service.
Investing in a smart growth future: Transportation For America
Transportation for America, a project of Smart Growth America, is a broad coalition of individuals, organizations, public officials, government agencies and businesses from across the nation who have joined forces to bring about a new approach to transportation that betters serves people and their communities. The coalition is concerned that the pressing issues of our time are creating an urgent need for a national dialogue about our country’s future. Our focus is on creating a closer alignment between transportation investments and an array of issues high on the public agenda — climate change, energy security, economic competitiveness, housing and community development — as a way to enhance sustainability and quality of life for all. Go to www.transportationforamerica.org >>