As a consultant and a transportation leader in organizations, I’ve had the opportunity to help cities, universities, hospitals and corporate campuses reduce their reliance on cars and provide effective transportation solutions that increase choice for their commuters.
These cities, universities, hospitals and corporate campuses were moved to find new ways to provide mobility to their commuters for many reasons. Sustainability included, of course. But honestly, it is hardly ever the main reason. In almost every case, the burning platform that causes leaders to think of about this thing that they’ve never paid any mind to is much more mundane: they can’t fit anymore cars in their parking lots or congestion is grinding their streets to a halt. Or both.
I’m sure it says something about human nature that despite knowing full well that we are ruining the future for our children and grandchildren what actually makes us change are the nuisances bugging us today. But does it really matter why we saved the planet as long as we, in the end, actually do it?
In many ways geometry has already locked us into this path. Typical 1980’s offices had 3-4 people per 1000 square feet. Today, it is not uncommon for offices to house 6-8 people in the same space. And here's the catch: the parking garages have not doubled in that time. And neither have roads. So the good old ‘recipe’ that called for 90% of people to drive alone just doesn't work anymore now that there are almost twice as many people in the same space.
Just like interior designers have found smart ways for people to collaborate and be productive in shared office spaces we need to find the smart and innovative recipes for more people to get to work or school or wherever they are going using the same amount of space in our roadways and parking lots.
And if, as a byproduct, we happen to save the earth from burning into a crisp then... bonus!