While the practice of public involvement has been studied and honed for decades, new questions are being asked about whether we are really doing it right. And, a recently completed city planning effort might point the way toward how how we can do it differently.
In September, Governing.com published an article that questioned whether public involvement as it is currently constructed favors people who have time and resources to participate in planning processes. Those people with means, the article claims, have an outsized ability to delay and thwart projects they don’t like – adding costs and, in some cases, sidetracking projects that might benefit lower socioeconomic communities or minority communities.
It certainly is worth considering whether and how the public meeting “regulars” – and most cities, counties and states have them – end up with an outsized level of influence on the outcome of various engagement efforts. In an “equal” process, everyone has access and influence.
However, some governments are asking whether equal is good enough. Perhaps it’s time to re-think when and how we conduct public involvement. In at least one city – and there are probably others – the new goal is equity through a process of continuous engagement that de-links the engagement process from individual projects.
Even as the price of fuel remains low and national vehicle miles traveled grows on our nation’s highways, there is no doubt that bicycling — whether competitively or recreationally — is growing in popularity.
Most states have policies and programs in place to support bicycling programs and infrastructure. In addition, state transportation departments tend to have employees who bike regularly. In many states the chief engineers and transportation CEOs regularly cycle and serve as the strongest advocates for bicycling. Continue reading →
Mobility Lab is one of the more interesting groups advocating for transportation investment. Based in Arlington, Virginia, the group describes itself as “a leading U.S. voice of “transportation demand management” – moving people instead of cars – and works to create a shared national voice with clear calls to action from TDM agencies across the country.” Continue reading →
It’s the holiday season and a time to take stock and be thankful for the year that has passed and, in turn, to look ahead in anticipation for what is still to come. It is with that spirit that I offer up a few items that, as a transportation communicator, I wish for in 2015. Continue reading →