Fresh off the latest CEOs for Cities annual conference in Pittsburgh, Soapbox caught up with president and CEO, Carol Coletta. She happily agreed to blog for us this week. Be sure to visit each blog on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as Carol poses some questions, as well as insight, into the importance of innovative cities as vital components to a succesful future.
“Everything you know about cities is wrong.” That could have been the theme of CEOs for Cities national meeting last month in Pittsburgh.
“Sustainable Urbanism” author and urban planner Doug Farr challenged the popular idea that global warming will be solved with technical fixes. In fact, they are not nearly enough. Instead, the most important contribution each of us can make to reverse climate change is to get out of our cars.
Driving less is not always easy in cities like Cincinnati. As Doug points out, individuals can only make so many adjustments. Then they need help from planning departments and transportation planners to do the right thing.
The formula for driving less is straight forward: Provide mixed use neighborhoods of approximately a quarter mile radius where people can walk to meet their daily needs and connect them to other neighborhoods with densely developed transit corridors.
Doug gave us what first appears to be an audacious challenge: Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) to 1970 levels or 3900 miles per year by 2030. But on further reflection, life was pretty good in 1970. It’s not as if we are all feeling deprived that we couldn’t drive our Mustangs farther. (I know. I remember. And yes, mine – or more accurately, my dad’s – was red.)
So what is your VMT, Cincinnati? And what kinds of changes will you demand from your planners and politicians to help you achieve this goal? With gas pushing $4 a gallon, if we can significantly reduce our driving, we will end up with more money in our pockets, as well as a better environment.