Why “People Before Cars” Can Help Curb Traffic Congestion

Posted 08/26/16 by Patrick Wojahn in Policy, Taking Action

Commuter in the D.C. Metro Area | Photo courtesy Washington Area Bicyclist Association | CC by 2.0

“The congestion in our region is real. Very real. Every-single-day real,” writes RTC Director of Government Relations and Mayor of College Park, Maryland, Patrick Wojahn, in an Aug. 26 Washington Post Op-Ed about how people-powered mobility can do much to help alleviate traffic congestion. 

He specifically calls out the flaws in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT’s) current proposal to create performance measures that would require urban areas to track the progress of their transportation systems based on “how quickly cars get from one place to another.”

Here’s more:

As the leader of a city where traffic congestion is a constant challenge, I look for opportunities to address this problem in ways that help us build a stronger community. That’s why it troubles me that in its recent notice of proposed rulemaking, the U.S. Transportation Department seems to take a narrow “cars-only” view and a “cars vs. the world” approach. Its proposed “performance measures”—measures that states and urban areas have to track to look at how they are making progress on building a better transportation system—focus solely on how quickly cars get from one place to another. Should these performance measures be finalized in their current state, they’ll ensure that elected officials such as me plan only for cars, not for the greater needs of the community.

Wojahn mentions how Maryland is investing in its multimodal transportation network through projects such as the Purple Line and the allocation of $14.9 million from bike and pedestrian projects—and that these and others across the U.S. are examples of how comprehensive, multimodal transportation systems can battle congestion and get more people safely where they need to go.

“This cars-first approach is wrong for the D.C. region and wrong for our nation. A bigger look at transportation is necessary to better move people to the places they want to go.”

More than 13,000 people agreed with Wojahn's view, and showed their support by signing an RTC-led petition in August urging USDOT to make sure trail users count and include active transportation when measuring and addressing traffic congestion in our communities.

Read Wojahn’s full Aug. 26 Op-Ed.

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