Moving Beyond the Automobile
Want to learn some new vocabulary? Curious about what “traffic calming” might be? Want to learn about how progressive street design can make for much more livable communities? Then come to the Net Impact BGI event on October 24!
Cities around the country and around the world (including Seattle) are taking a new approach to street infrastructure. Instead of designing streets solely to allow for efficient movement of cars, planners and designers are taking a more democratic approach that makes space for alternative modes of transportation. People need options for getting around a city, whether it’s walking, biking, bus, rail, ferry, or some combination of these. Designing solely for cars limits options and disenfranchises various groups of people.
When cities are designed for biking and walking, there is more interaction among people, and quality of life is improved. There’s empirical data to prove this. Donald Appleyard, a researcher from the University of California, did some fascinating research several years ago showing that people who lived on streets with relatively low car traffic that were pedestrian-friendly had a much greater sense of community and more interaction with their neighbors than people in the same city who lived on high-traffic streets that made little space for pedestrians. People living on the high-traffic streets reported feeling much more constrained in terms of their personal space, and they had less interpersonal interaction. These findings about community enhancement made Appleyard one of the early proponents of the “complete streets” movement. We’ll talk more about the benefits of complete streets on October 24.
So why does this matter for a business school, you might ask? Because there are all kinds of business opportunities presented by the movement toward alternative or active transportation. This is a trend that will almost certainly accelerate over the next two decades, and that will create many opportunities for entrepreneurs to do well by doing good. For example, two BGI grads created a business called Hub & Bespoke in Fremont that provides clothing that people can wear to bike and to meetings (no spandex to be found). The more people are biking to work and school, the better Aldan and Juliette will do – a true win-win situation. More businesses like this might be in development right now at BGI, who knows? All kinds of opportunities exist to both support and capitalize on the growth in bike commuting and other forms of active transportation.
Firms like SvR Design, Alta Planning & Design and Toole Design Group are doing quite well helping cities create streetscapes, public spaces and trails that give people new options for mobility. And these firms need capable business managers. Opportunities for bike shops, cargo bikes, tour operators and associated services will grow. Urban restaurants, food trucks, and other businesses that cater to bikers and pedestrians in the city will prosper, like the redeveloped South Lake Union in Seattle, WA.
So come learn more about how cities are changing streets for good, and how you can be involved in the movement. See you at the new BGI home in Pioneer Square at 6:00 pm on October 24.
Demi Allen is an MBA candidate at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and one of the leaders of Net Impact BGI, a student group finding opportunities to connect their sustainable business education with the Seattle area business community.