Transportation innovation occurring thanks to local leadership and action

Transportation innovation occurring thanks to local leadership and action.
According to a new report, over the last 10 years, transportation innovations in several cities have occurred due to local-level advocacy and support.

“Transformation happens at the local level, with civic organizations and transportation leaders who coordinate their actions and work together,” David Bragdon, executive director of TransitCenter, said. “Municipal leaders should be bold in their attempts to innovate, and state and federal policy should encourage local-level innovation.”

Several cities, including Portland, New York City, Chicago, Charlotte, Denver and Pittsburgh, have added bike and bus lanes, emphasized moving people instead of cars and created new pedestrian plazas. These areas used local advocacy as well as civic engagement before reforming their urban transportation.

“Civic leaders stand up for bold ideas and support politicians willing to take risks,” Shin-pei Tsay, research and development director of TransitCenter and the report primary author, said. “Elected leaders articulate strong transportation visions and inspire change across agencies. Agency leaders navigate desired changes through the bureaucracy and create new practices. When one is missing, change happens much more slowly.”

The report, titled “A People’s History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation,” was released on July 29. It is the result of a joint collaboration between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and TransitCenter.

“TransitCenter’s recounting of how leading cities have changed the way they build and plan urban transportation shows how engaged citizens can set the stage for big shifts in our cities,” Benjamin de la Peña, Knight Foundation director for community and national strategy, said. “Advocates and local leaders in these cities are at the forefront of this transformation. Less car-centric transportation that provides more options can help to improve the quality of life in our cities and give them an edge in the competition to attract and keep talent.”

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