Dwight Evans has long been a supporter of urban transit. Dwight worked extensively in the legislature to secure dedicated, predictable and sufficient state revenues for mass transit throughout the Commonwealth. In 1991, Dwight helped establish the Public Transportation Assistance Fund, the first dedicated funding (Act 26) source for mass transit. In 2005, he forged the establishment of a Transportation Funding and Reform Commission, an initiative adopted by former Gov. Ed Rendell that provided strategies to stabilize transit funding. And Dwight worked strenuously for approval of Act 89 of 2013, which provided a comprehensive, statewide funding plan for transportation.
Dwight Evans will continue to work in Congress to shift federal funding from highway expansion into exurbs that has drained cities and urban cores and destroyed countless vibrant neighborhoods, and instead promote mass transit that will connect more people with jobs, increase environmental sustainability, further cut dependence on foreign oil, reduce commute times and improve quality of life for more Americans. But we need to go further and change how we think about urban mobility more generally, to promote our neighborhood commercial centers and make our neighborhoods more livable. The federal government must help cities to:
Make surface streets safer with:
- Pedestrian crossings.
- Circulation patterns designed to reduce risk to pedestrians.
- Fewer vehicles per capita, accomplished through bike sharing and car sharing programs, and better pedestrian access.
- Incorporate the above measures into routine street paving and maintenance. For example, in Seattle, when repaving a street, improved configurations in the existing right-of-way may be considered to create space for bicyclists or improve traffic flow for automobiles. They may flag the location as needing further study later on, when more funding can be attached. Adding more visible stop signs and painting stop bars in the road greatly improves the pedestrian environment and can be done at low cost when repaving or intersection redesign work is occurring.
Promote Transit-Oriented Development. Transit-oriented development is mixed commercial and residentially development centered around transit stops. One of the best examples of a highly successful public-private partnership is Portland’s Pearl District, a new neighborhood built along a streetcar line. The Portland streetcar helped the city to achieve several objectives, including the creation of more affordable housing, attractive and efficient streetscapes, and public parks and spaces – while attracting new private investment. These public and private investments also generated a high volume of new business activity for downtown. The streetcar has been so successful in stimulating economic development that dozens of U.S. cities are now trying to emulate the Pearl District transit-oriented model.
Make streets more bicycle-friendly by clearly marking bike lanes and installing bike loop detectors at intersections so that cyclists can activate the signal themselves (instead of having to wait for a vehicle to activate it). Such changes can be built into routine paving and maintenance work, reducing costs. Additionally, installing corrals for bicycle parking in commercial areas is another low-cost technique that signals bicyclists are welcome in the area. In November 2012, the New York Department of Transportation released a report called Measuring the Street: New Metrics for the 21st Century, showing that local business benefits from bike-lanes, for the fairly obvious reason that cyclists find it easy to stop and shop, as compared to drivers.