Smart Growth in Action: Fundamental Principles
Principle 3. Enable choice in the mode of transportation available and insure that transportation options are integrated and consistent with land use objectives.
Many of us consider Vermont a land of choice yet when it comes to transportation, often our only choice is the automobile. This works well for most of us, but when oil prices rise or we can no longer drive, getting to work, the doctor’s or visiting friends can be a challenge. Our lack of options also impacts our wallets. In 2003, the average American household spent just over 19% of their income on transportation costs – more than health care, food or education. Costs related to vehicle purchase and maintenance, registration, fuel and parking can strain budgets, particularly among our low-income neighbors, who spend an average of 36 cents of every dollar on transportation.
When towns develop multiple transportation choices and insure that these options are integrated and consistent with land use objectives, we can reduce harmful emissions, improve physical health, increase the mobility of those without access to reliable vehicles, and save money.
Towns have many tools available to create transportation choices. First, they can plan and zone for compact, mixed-use neighborhoods and work with transit providers to deliver services to these areas. This not only brings people closer to jobs, schools and services, it also creates the density necessary to make public transit affordable and efficient. A transportation plan can serve as the guide to connecting existing and new roads instead of creating dead ends, as well as mapping out bike and pedestrian paths that consider both commuting and recreation. Implementing “complete streets” policy is another way to encourage road improvements and that new projects consider bike lanes, sidewalks, crossings and transit stops. If towns implement these tools, we can make travel safe and friendly for transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists.
Transportation is much more than getting from point A to point B. It is the network that ties together our workplaces, our homes, our businesses and our schools. As an individual, you can also make a difference.
- Encourage your town to plan and implement compact neighborhoods and work with transit providers and developers to provide bus stops and link bike and pedestrian paths.
- Share a ride to work
- Use CarShare Vermont
- Walk to the store
- Take public transit.
These steps can can help make Vermont’s transportation system healthier, more affordable and accessible. To learn more about transportation choice and other principles of smart growth visit our website.