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The newest episode of the Buddy Ruski Show is out now with special guest Jason Kutchma. Make sure to tune into that one. It’s a longer runtime than normal but you won’t be disappointed.
Now that we’ve gotten the housekeeping out of the way. What I’ve brought you here to talk about is transportation.
If you’re new to the scene, transportation has been a recurring beat on Buddy Ruski lately. I’ve written about the trauma of urban cycling, lessons learned from biking down the East Coast, and the need for more willpower in our urban design. As an avid cyclist and proponent of public transportation, I’m not an objective observer. I’ve spent a lot of mental energy thinking about ways to get more cars off the road and more butts on bike and bus seats. In my research, I’ve come across a few articles that stood out to me. Some are from folks in Durham who present other compelling alternative transit solutions. Others touch on ideas with a much larger scope. As I mentioned in a recent Instagram post, Buddy Ruski “blends stories about Durham that are influenced by the outside world with the occasional story about the outside world influenced by my hometown.”
Here are 5 thought-provoking bits of information about how our transportation systems and urban design can and should improve to support our climate change needs and create more safe spaces for all the folks not behind the wheel of a car. Enjoy!
Who Owns The Streets
It would be foolish of me not to include my own work in this rundown. If you didn’t click on the hyperlinked text earlier, time to redeem yourself. This piece is about a decision made by Downtown Durham Inc to reverse an earlier decision to close off streets for an event. It speaks to our collective lack of vision and willpower to break from car culture in Durham.
Taking an Uber or Lyft just makes everything worse
The only real answer, as always, is fewer cars.
Speaking of car culture. When transportation network companies (TNC) first arrived on the streets, I was certain they would help curb carbon emissions because less personal cars would be on the road in favor of on-demand taxi services. Turns out, TNCs are not the answer to all our questions when it comes to cleaning up the roads and fighting climate change. Thanks Varun for bringing this article to my attention!
The Future of the Durham Beltway
The Durham Beltway is coming(?) but its implementation is unclear which makes it hard to grade the project as it currently stands. My buddy and fellow Bike Durham board member Erik Landfried is a great resource for understanding the mechanics of our transit system and how it can be made more equitable for everyone. This Twitter thread examining gaps in the Beltway plan is a prime example.
From Freeway to Boulevard
The creation of NC-147 looms large over Durham’s history. It’s the kind of story that people who fear the “critical race theory” boogeyman probably don’t want taught to their kids. But to be fair, it wasn’t taught to me, either, right here in liberal America. For years, people have theorized ways to reclaim 147 and transform it into a more transit-diverse pathway. I can’t begin to understand all the nuance of how such a major project gets done. It would take great imagination, something we often lack in this country. But time is running out for us to just twiddle our thumbs and accept the status quo.
Trams, Cable Cars, Electric Ferries: How Cities Are Rethinking Transit
Urban transportation is central to the effort to slow climate change. It can’t be done by just switching to electric cars. Several cities are starting to electrify mass transit.
Elsewhere in the world, creativity and political willpower are less of an obstacle for radical change in transit systems. It’s inspiring to see other countries tackling climate change and moving toward green energy with such fervor. Are they perfect? Of course not. But their stories provide a blueprint for how the US can shift its own reliance on the internal combustion engine. My interest is most piqued by the cable cars floating above Bogotá. I’m deathly afraid of heights, so I’d probably never take one, but damn, they sure do look fun.