I have spoken with many residents about transportation issues and two themes constantly come up: dealing with traffic congestion, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
As the city has grown, traffic congestion has gotten worse, despite City efforts.
It is very important to reduce vehicle miles traveled, in order to decrease traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and consumption of finite energy resources. We should encourage mass transit use, and alternative transportation such as bicycling and walking, to the greatest degree possible. We should make infrastructure improvements that better facilitate bicycling and walking. And for people who are not able to use these modes, we should also develop other innovative strategies, so that everyone has a more sustainable option.
The issues of transportation, housing, and jobs are inseparable. If more people live within easy access to transit, ridership will increase. If more people work closer to where they live, commuting miles are decreased. For this reason, I favor a regional approach to transportation solutions.
Reducing the number of in-commuters would take pressure off of Boulder’s housing market and roads. The jobs/population balance is very critical. And with Boulder’s ultra low 1.8% unemployment, I believe we can encourage all of our surrounding communities to have robust job markets, too, in order to decrease commuter traffic into Boulder, and the resultant greenhouse gas emissions.
We need to encourage hybrid and electric vehicles, car share programs, and carpooling. Incentives for these transportation modes should be pursued. I’m glad that the City’s own fleet is being converted to electric and natural gas vehicles.
That being said, the City has pursued a “carrot/stick” approach to automobiles that emphasizes too much “stick.” I believe that we also need to encourage people, and make it easier for them to do the right thing.
For this reason, I support a community-wide Eco-Pass. Many residents do not have Eco-Passes provided by their employer or school. Many neighborhood blocks aren’t able to meet RTD’s dauntingly high criteria for neighborhood Eco-Passes.
I also encourage biking and walking, as they take vehicles off the roads and can also improve our health and relieve stress. I am an avid walker and hiker and know this to be true.
I would also like to continue to work with RTD to see if the schedule for the delivery of light rail to Boulder can be accelerated.
I have several new ideas. One thing I’d like to explore is whether the City could initiate a pilot project in which the City buys two or three 8-12 seat electric vehicles to run during RTD hours in two or three willing neighborhoods, in order to pick up people in front of their homes and take them to existing bus stops. It may encourage more people to use buses.
As with all matters, I would solicit solutions from residents. I believe that we Boulderites are creative enough to mitigate the congestion in a manner that works for everyone.