Dreaming of a better transportation future | Local 20/20

David Thielk
Posted 3/16/22

As I enter F Street on my bike, I see more walkers and cyclists than cars. 

I hesitate as the Jefferson Transit shuttle comes around the corner and heads east up the hill. The shuttle, which …

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Dreaming of a better transportation future | Local 20/20

Posted

As I enter F Street on my bike, I see more walkers and cyclists than cars. 

I hesitate as the Jefferson Transit shuttle comes around the corner and heads east up the hill. The shuttle, which runs every 15 minutes from the Bell Street neighborhood toward downtown, and through most neighborhoods, is filled. A half a dozen transit riders have their bikes on the bus.  

I feel safe and comfortable making my way downtown by bicycle. The breeze is light upon my face and tugging at my beard as I roll down the hill, turn at Memorial Field, and approach Water Street. It’s a joy to have streets tailored for safety, predictability, and efficiency. By their design, they reduce the speed of motorists.

I meet my friends. They’ve come with their bikes on the passenger ferry from Seattle. Because we’re on bike, we can hear voices and street music and almost taste the flavors coming from restaurants and food vendors. There’s no engine noise, hissing tires, honking horns, or squeaky brakes. Exhaust fumes are gone because Water Street is closed to motor vehicle traffic from May to September and on weekends from October to April. It’s so easy and comfortable to come downtown!

Water Street is once again a hub for people; residents and visitors, workers and colorful locals, retirees, and children. Abundant, affordable housing is available not far from workplaces. More folks now choose to live here without a motor vehicle or to share cars between families.

My friends and I share a meal on the Taylor Street Plaza. The sidewalks and streets are vibrant with foot traffic, abundant commerce, buskers, social interactions, and exchanges of greetings, goods, services, and smiles. I can’t help but think: truly another fine day in paradise!

Does all of this sound like a dream?

Transportation Lab believes this is a model for the future. And, if we are going to have even the remotest chance of avoiding the consequences of serious climate breakdown, oceans of asphalt, and a continued demand for raw materials to make and power cars and build roads, we must reduce reliance on personal motor vehicle use immediately and precipitously.

To turn this dream into reality, the Transportation Lab advocates we:

Design and improve streets primarily for people walking and biking and using transit;

Eliminate hidden subsidies and encouragements for driving, such as free parking, fuel subsidies and free charging stations, and reduce dollars spent on road construction;  

Change the language in our land-use policies from minimum off-street parking requirements to maximum parking allowances; and

Place carbon reduction as a priority for all decision-making, which will enhance transit, walking and bicycling facilities, and provide transit that moves the most number of people. 

If you have questions about Transportation Lab, an action group of Local 20/20, email David Thielk at tlab@l2020.org.

David Thielk is a 33-year resident of Port Townsend and a 57-year utility cyclist, and hopes to live long enough to see an awakening when it comes to transportation and carbon emissions.

Comments

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  • IfItsXorI

    More equal consideration for the needs of walkers and bikers also brings us back a step closer to remembering what it is to be human before we evolved into motorists, stressed and angry and pointing fingers. We can choose to have more choices, if we make that choice.

    Friday, March 18 Report this

  • winniwoman

    This dream does not account for the many people in Port Townsend who have trouble due to physical pain, deformity, etc. walking or biking. They would be shut out of using the stores on Water Street completely.

    Saturday, March 19 Report this

  • MargeS

    Washington Street is clogged because of delivery trucks that can't use Water Street. Businesses build out in the County, let the tourists have downtown. I remember when Port Townsend was an actual city. It's good to plan ahead but no one wants cobblestone streets.

    Sunday, March 20 Report this