Whether our city leaders want to admit it or not, and whether they like it or not, the automobile is the primary means of transportation for Bloomington and will be for the foreseeable future.We can encourage alternative transportation, but that is not going to change.
And let’s be clear. Bloomington city government can do precisely nothing about climate change or peak oil. We can encourage alternative means of transport all we want, but what Bloomington does will not matter at all. Even if every single person in Bloomington decided to bike, walk or use public transit, the lack of greenhouse gas emissions will not matter at all. (The infrastructure is simply not there for that, of course.) This is just virtue signaling by people who want to appeal to liberal voters.
What this means is we need to base our transportation policy and infrastructure decisions on reality, not on our wishes. If we want a vibrant and growing downtown, we need more parking infrastructure. We need to have streets designed to handle traffic and we should not be implementing traffic “calming” devices (more accurately called traffic impeding devices) to benefit particular politically-favored neighborhoods. If people cannot get to a business, that business will lose customers.
So should we enable alternate means of transit? Of course we should. We should have more bike lanes, which benefit both cyclists and motorists, make the streets safer for both, and help all traffic to move more efficiently. We should build more sidewalks, to allow people who choose to walk to where they work or shop to do that. Instead of seeking to ban or severely restrict electric scooters, we should develop a plan to fold them into a diverse alternative transportation infrastructure. For a community our size, we do a good job with alternative transportation, but improvements can be made – especially in sidewalks.
But the reality is what it is. We should make room for alternative transit while also recognizing that automobile transit is the primary means of transportation and will be for the foreseeable future. We should stop pretending that we can make it something other than what it is. We need to put sound infrastructure policy over ideological agendas.