Should Segways be allowed on sidewalks? Should all bicycles travel only in designated bike lanes? Should motorized scooters be treated as if they are wheelchairs? Where should rollerblades, skateboards, adult tricycles, bikes with trailers or kick scooters travel? The world of personal mobility is expanding. And so is the pressure in favor of alternatives to the grandaddy of personal mobility -- the automobile. In spite of its importance as image-maker and status-definer, a car is just a method for getting a person from Point A to Point B. Moving people -- that’s its basic purpose.
At the opening dinner of an international workshop on building a better national transportation policy, I found myself seated between Charlotte, North Carolina mayor Pat McCrory and Shirley DeLibero, a consultant who headed transit authorities in New Jersey and Houston, and was a deputy in both Dallas and Washington D.C.
McCrory's a Republican, Charlotte's first six-term mayor, first elected mayor in 1995. While his city has grown 20 percent, McCrory's presided over a shift from an all-roads strategy to a hybrid model adding rail transit to heavily congested corridors radiated from the region's center. The first line, a south corridor, is scheduled to open this fall, supported by the half-cent sales tax passed in 1998 to build and operate a better transit system. Now in 2007, the mayor finds himself in a serious cross-fire as he ponders re-election prospects.
I couldn’t wait to use the new word, ginormous, which Merriam-Webster recently added to the Collegiate Dictionary. My spell checker has been trained and now I can get about the business of saving ginormous amounts of energy. Recent bouts of ecoterrorism in the form of Hummer vandalism in Washington D.C. and the growing media attention to the environmental hypocrisy of the travel and housing habits of card-carrying carbon footprint club members (take a gander at the 10,000 sq. ft. home of Al Gore or the 28,200 sq.