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Are we ready for a ‘modal shift'?Print

Thriving Communities | April 4, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

MLUI is about to unveil a new program dedicated to helping people carpool, ride the bus, bike and walk to get where they need to go, starting with your commute. (Photo: Gary Howe)

As the clouds make way for the spring sun, a lot of people are dusting off their bike helmets and heading out to work on two wheels.

A “modal shift” is going full-speed ahead around the state and here in Traverse City.  And it’s more than a seasonal change—it’s a long-lasting shift.

Take a look around. Grand Rapids will break ground next week on the state’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit system, which will connect commuters to downtown’s largest employers. In Metro Detroit, officials have finally put in place a regional transit authority that will coordinate and improve transit service to connect suburbs to the city.

When the Transportation for Michigan coalition toured the state recently asking people what kind of transportation system they wanted to see, most people said they wanted more transportation options.

And here in Traverse City, a Northwestern Michigan College survey found that many people feel very strongly that investments in transit, bike lanes, and sidewalks should be a top priority.

MLUI is taking a role in the modal shift, too. We’re about to unveil a new program dedicated to helping people carpool, ride the bus, bike and walk to get where they need to go, starting with your commute. The program will have aggressive transportation goals and plenty of ways for people to engage.

We’ll kick it off next month by releasing some pretty compelling data about our transportation habits.

For example, we’ve uncovered that…

► Almost every Grand Traverse area motorist (98%) drives more than 18,500 miles a year, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. That’s like driving around the world at the 45th parallel once a year. Almost 30% drive more than 26,000 miles a year. That’s like driving around the world at the equator.

► Those who bike and walk commute, because they live closer to their work, are spending half as much time commuting than those who drive. The time saved equals two whole weeks a year. If you had two extra weeks, would you work or spend time with your friends and family?

We think people are ready for the modal shift. Stay tuned for a new transportation report and campaign, then mark your calendars for a June 4 Commuter Summit in Traverse City dedicated to new solutions for transportation in the Grand Traverse region.

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.