Monday, February 16, 2009

A Piece of the Transportation Puzzle

Dest Damn Bread Shop
Great Bread, and Great Business Participation
Businesses like Great Harvest can have a large impact on how our daily travels happen.

Transportation policy, in a larger sense, is a byzantine behemoth with many false paths and dead ends. Anybody that has followed the Russel St reconstruction knows this and the feeling of utter insignificance that can such a project can engender, especially when a great deal of the money comes with DOT strings attached. Local voices can easily be drowned out by the noise generated by large governmental organizations and finance debates.

If local concerns and needs can not fully make an impact on this process, then how do local values express themselves?

Bike Parking @ Great Harvest
Small measures can have a large impact.
There is space for about 10 bikes at this bakery,
Thats more parking capacity then what is provided
for cars.

One piece of the puzzle that can have a large impact are local employers. Missoula is lucky in the sense that a large proportion of work places actively encourage alternative transportation options. Its as simple as placing a bike rack in a convenient place or restricting parking spaces (not always an option due to zoning). Employer attitudes concerning transportation can have a substantial impact on the reality of our roads. Not only can businesses shape the way their employees and even customers commute, business interests can help or hinder many aspect of transportation policy. Large corporations such as the car manufacturers helped shape the realities of transportation during the 20th century. Local businesses can also have an impact, by publicly lobbying local governments for well-rounded policies.

Organization and communication are key to developing sensible strategies that can equally meet the needs of everyone in a community. Missoula would be in a far different place concerning transportation policies without local business organizations and local government frequently communicating. Programs such as Missoula In Motion are great initiatives, but without a partnership between different interests within the community, its success would not be possible.

Ultimately, if a community wants to have an impact on something as large as transportation policy, it is up to each individual and organization to make and work towards the right choices. Small changes done on a large scale can have profound effects.

1 comment:

Daniel Nairn said...

Hey. I'm glad you brought up what businesses can do to make life easier for commuting options. I worked at Great Harvest while in Missoula, and I have the deepest respect for how that business is run. They do many things right.

The owner and the manager both bike to work, as well as many of the employees.

I've also been impressed by Missoula in Motion's competitions between business during bike/walk/bus week. Maybe other cities can learn from these fun and effective activities.

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