Michigan Land Use Institute

Thriving Communities / News & Views / Are we ready for a ‘modal shift'?

Are we ready for a ‘modal shift'?

Signs around the state point to yes

Choices | April 4, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

About the Author


James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.
 

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MLUI is about to unveil a new program dedicated to helping people carpool, ride the bus, bike and walk to get where they need to go, starting with your commute. (Photo: Gary Howe)

As the clouds make way for the spring sun, a lot of people are dusting off their bike helmets and heading out to work on two wheels.

A “modal shift” is going full-speed ahead around the state and here in Traverse City.  And it’s more than a seasonal change—it’s a long-lasting shift.

Take a look around. Grand Rapids will break ground next week on the state’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit system, which will connect commuters to downtown’s largest employers. In Metro Detroit, officials have finally put in place a regional transit authority that will coordinate and improve transit service to connect suburbs to the city.

When the Transportation for Michigan coalition toured the state recently asking people what kind of transportation system they wanted to see, most people said they wanted more transportation options.

And here in Traverse City, a Northwestern Michigan College survey found that many people feel very strongly that investments in transit, bike lanes, and sidewalks should be a top priority.

MLUI is taking a role in the modal shift, too. We’re about to unveil a new program dedicated to helping people carpool, ride the bus, bike and walk to get where they need to go, starting with your commute. The program will have aggressive transportation goals and plenty of ways for people to engage.

We’ll kick it off next month by releasing some pretty compelling data about our transportation habits.

For example, we’ve uncovered that…

► Almost every Grand Traverse area motorist (98%) drives more than 18,500 miles a year, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. That’s like driving around the world at the 45th parallel once a year. Almost 30% drive more than 26,000 miles a year. That’s like driving around the world at the equator.

► Those who bike and walk commute, because they live closer to their work, are spending half as much time commuting than those who drive. The time saved equals two whole weeks a year. If you had two extra weeks, would you work or spend time with your friends and family?

We think people are ready for the modal shift. Stay tuned for a new transportation report and campaign, then mark your calendars for a June 4 Commuter Summit in Traverse City dedicated to new solutions for transportation in the Grand Traverse region.

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.

2 Comments

1271 days ago, 11:28pm | by Chris Campbell | Report Comment

This winter I bought studded snow tires and plastic fenders for my bike so I could commute to work all winter. It's wonderful. I get a mini-adventure twice a day. But I'm lucky--work is about a mile from my house. Writing about that earlier got me to thinking that since I first started leaving my home in the daytime--for kindergarten, age 5--I've lived within 1.5 miles of my work or school for all but 1-1/2 years! That's a span of 60 years now. Spending a big chunk of my day commuting has never made sense to me, personally or as a rational model for our society.

1271 days ago, 9:11am | by James Bruckbauer | Report Comment

Thanks for the comment, Chris.

I know what you're saying about the winter bike commute. It's a refreshing way to start and end the work day.

Before I moved to Traverse City, I never had a commute shorter than a half hour. Since living here, though, my commute has never been more than a 5-15 minute walk or bike ride. The difference is significant. I could never go back to a long car commute.

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