More dates & locations listed on the Web site, but Traverse City has two coming opportunities:
- Jan. 23rd at Right Brain Brewery (This Saturday!)
- Feb. 12th at the Microbrew & Music Festival at the Grand Traverse Resort
(I participated once last year. One of the most brutal 21 seconds of my life…)
A Scene from a Traverse City event last year during the 4th International Fixed Gear Symposium.
Do you have it in you?
What about this idea for Traverse City to set a goal for non-car commuters?
Would you support a goal to decrease car use to 50% of total commute trips by 2030?
Is it doable? Desired? Is there even a way to measure it?
There is a baseline. The Carfree Census Database uses the U.S. census to track how people are moving about and whether they own a car. In 2000, of Traverse City’s 14, 551 residents:
- 1.76% were bike commuters
- 6.21% were pedestrian commuters
- 1.2% were public transit users
- 8.79% of households didn’t own a car.
That’s 9.17% of commuters not using a car to get around the city.
It leaves plenty of room for growth, and is still oddly promising that almost 900 people in town simply walk as a primary means of transportation. Considering the ease of bike commuting when combined with walking and increased BATA use and the future of $20 a gallon gas, and all of a sudden 20/30/50 by 2030 seems in reach (20% pedestrian & bike commuters, 30% bus transit and 50% car use by 2030.)
To do this the city and county must encourage those with the means to choose more active modes of transportation, because in Michigan it is mainly college towns or towns with high rates of unemployment & poverty that have higher rates of non-car use.
A conscious choice
Most Michigan cities of similar size (10,000-25,000 population) had much less non-car commuters: For example, Alpena 5.61%, Adrian 6.46% and Harrison at .76%. However, Highland Park had 24% of its commuters traveling car-free. This has more to do with the 38.3% of Highland Park’s population living below the poverty line than a conscious choice to walk, bike or ride the bus.
Marquette, a university town, has around 13%. (Ann Arbor is around 26%.)
Traverse City is unique. It’s a destination for both tourists as well as residents. It’s also a small town that thinks of itself as a larger city. We have a relatively low poverty rate, so already many people are making an active choice to be car-free.
The question is, does the public and city/county officials support action to actively create a car-less future?
How long will it take for a city that lacks age, poverty, or dominant universities to achieve the kind of low car ownership that these 50 demonstrate? How soon, for example, will a city be able to create a combination of density, design, and mixture of uses that yields the same performance as an old city that naturally has those features?
People come to Northern Michigan for the quality of life. That matches recent findings of why anyone moves anywhere. In a future post, Wheels will cover some of those findings and suggest why local governments need to worry less about driving economic growth, and more simply creating, improving and maintaining desirable places to live.
As the region and the city become more populated, the numbers wanting more transportation options will continue to climb. To get there, the city needs to develop a vision, strategy, and specific goals to get it done.
What do you see in the census numbers?
What percentages would you like to set for 2030?