Multi-modal transportation helps connect community

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 10, 2014

I just spent three days in Washington, D.C., for the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit, wich is really more about creating livable and sustainable communities for up-and-coming generations.
There was a lot of discussion about struggling communities and what’s being done in those communities to revitalize their economies. They have the support of local and national leaders, including Anthony Foxx, the former mayor of Charlotte and current secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportion, and they are finding success in their efforts.
There were more than 700 people at this three-day summit. They are people who care about the economic situation of their communities; they care about the air quality of their living spaces, and they care about the health and quality of life of their citizens. Ultimately, they care about keeping their community alive and sustainable.
Rowan County realizes we are experiencing rising unemployment rates, and our talented young adults are moving away. The summit addressed all these issues.
Young people think differently today than the way many of us have thought for years In many cases, ideals that we had are not the same ideals that they have. They are learning to live in a different world with different demands, while many of us are still struggling to hold on to those ideals that we think our younger generations should have. But this is their world now. Wearing suits and ties and driving around in $80k vehicles and living in $350k houses 20 miles from where they work and play are growing less and less popular with this group of people.
We need to start focusing on fostering a sustainable compact community with multi-modal transportation systems instead of focusing and catering to an environment built soley around using an automobile to go everywhere.
The city center of Salisbury is surrounded by residential areas, with distances that can easily be traveled on foot, by bike or by taking public transportation for those few who, because of hardships or handicaps, are incapable of actively commuting.
I want the citizens of Salisbury and Rowan County to think of the community as a village, where most of the things a person or a family needs — whether it’s groceries, shopping, restaurants, entertainment or church — are all only a few minutes away by bike or foot for most people. The roads can be smaller, with slower traffic speeds. They would be safer for kids and animals. The never ending problem of lack of parking would disappear.
And instead of flipping off the driver who can’t seem to navigate a four-way stop, well, you just smile and greet them with a warm and friendly “hello.”
Mocksville native Eric Phillips operates Skinny Wheels bicycle shop in Salisbury.
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