Get involved in transportation planning for the future

The "Mail Tribune 100" for March 17, 1911 reported that Medford Police Chief Hittson instructed officers to enforce "rules of the road" and for automobile drivers to "keep the machines to the right side of the street." On March 19, 1911, the news was "a new ambulance, the first to be brought to Medford."

Today, the way we travel around our region is mainly by private machines. We have become dependent on low-occupancy vehicles. Most people depend on a car for getting to and from work, or to do their work; it is how most of us get to an appointment or go shopping; how we access our region's recreational opportunities. Many students, pre-K to post-HS, get to school riding a bus or in a car.

In fact, automobiles have become a significant part of the social and economic fabric worldwide. However, that has created a dependency on petroleum and is part of global air pollution. Transportation (or Travel) Demand Management is "the application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand (specifically that of single-occupancy private vehicles), or to redistribute this demand in space or in time" (Wikipedia). The yearly Global City Forum (recently held in Abu Dhabi) had this on its agenda.

The Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, which focuses on regional transportation planning, is studying TDM for our region. Uou can find details on the MPO website, Click on "Transportation Demand Management Plan."

We, the public, will be the beneficiaries of improvements as well as the ones who pay for them one way or another. Maybe a good source of effective ideas lies with those involved: you.

On the RVMPO website under Evaluations, there are discussions of Strategies, Impacts and Benefits. Take a look at these from your perspective. Would you give the same rankings? Do you have other ideas for improving our transportation issues?

As with all things, there is a cost involved. The direct ones may be called a fee, surcharge, assessment, etc., but clearly all are a tax. However, without using TDM we can not escape increasing direct and indirect costs. Does being cost-effective have your attention?

An example of a project that relates to TDM is the recent Oregon Transportation Commission grant to Jackson County to replace nearly eight miles of the Bear Creek Greenway. The nearly 40-year-old sections suffer cracking and root upheavals.

Oregon is funding nonhighway transportation projects that include bike and walking paths and other alternative forms of TDM such as park-and-ride lots. Do you have thoughts on alternative approaches to transportation management? How about useful apps for smart phones or mobile devices?

If you are affected by lost time, have experienced frustrations, and are concerned by the increasing direct and indirect costs, then consider expressing your ideas on how to better manage traffic and transportation in the Rogue Valley.

Participating is easy: Connect to the Web and send an email message to State your suggestion or give a remark in a simple format such as what the idea is, how it would improve things and how it would work.

This outreach is independent of official actions by the RVMPO. However, all messages will be brought to the attention of the Public Advisory Council of the RVMPO for their consideration.

The genie came out of the bottle thousands of years ago when man found the horse. We now need to have practical choices in place of vehicles with only one occupant. Can we collectively address some parts of this dilemma?

Ed Danehy is a retired geologist who has lived in Jackson County since 1991. For a number of years he has been a representative of the Jacksonville area on the Public Advisory Council of the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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