Friday, October 2, 2015

Go Human in Southern California

As much as I am a total car nut, I truly love active transportation because it not only encourages people to avoid driving, but has all the added benefits of being healthier, often cheaper, and unquestionably better for the environment. This month marks the launch of the Go Human campaign here in Southern California. The goal of the campaign is to encourage residents of Southern California, one of the most congested and car-centric parts of the US, to take human powered transportation instead of driving. That means more walking and biking instead of time spent behind the wheel. For those who cannot realistically make the switch to human powered transportation, the campaign is a reminder that our roads are shared with all manners of road users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

It might seem that we have been spending an inordinate amount of time lately talking about non-motorized transportation and there is a good reason for that. Despite moving back to Southern California, where I grew up relying on a car to get just about everywhere, my wife and I have made the conscious decision to live in a location that offers us great flexibility when it comes to transportation options. Not only are we able to walk to take care of most of our day-to-day needs, we are located within easy walking distance of the LA Metro, which offers a straight shot into downtown LA for my wife's job, and we are located right in the heart of Long Beach's numerous bike paths, giving us access to much of the city by bike. Our desire stems from the decade we spent on the East Coast, where cities are structured in such a way that walking, biking, and mass transit are legitimate and generally ubiquitous options for getting around. We wanted to emulate that convenience and flexibility even though we are living in Southern California.

The Go Human campaign is a great reflection of these values that we brought with us from our time out east. The idea that people can move around their communities without the sometimes financially crippling costs of car ownership is an excellent one as it opens the doors to opportunity for people who might otherwise be stuck between finding a job that they can get to or finding a job that pays well. By electing to utilize human powered transport, we not only tell our city officials and legislators that they need to spend money on the infrastructure to facilitate active transportation, but we also guide the way cities are developed, with a greater focus on accessibility for all.

While Southern California is certainly not going to morph overnight into a pedestrian and cyclist wonderland, my personal hope is that this campaign can help encourage a few more people to walk or bike for transit and that it helps illustrate to drivers the importance of being attentive of and courteous to the vulnerable road users that are a part of the traffic around them. Equally important, the campaign reminds pedestrians and cyclists to do their part and follow the rules to make themselves safer as well.

To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.gohumansocal.org.