On April 22, government leaders, transportation experts and concerned citizens gathered for the April TEC Coffee “Street Smart for Tampa” Transportation Summit. The Summit was held at the Busch Gardens Gwazi Pavilion and was hosted by the Tampa Innovation Alliance and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. Samuel Schwartz, author of “Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars” was the featured speaker.
Samuel Schwartz is a leader in the traffic and transportation industry. He is an expert planner and transportation engineer who has studied many cities in the US and identified what works and what doesn’t in the industry. Sam Schwartz was the one who coined the word “gridlock” in the 70’s. When he isn’t busy running his company, Sam writes a traffic column for the New York Daily News.
At the summit, Mr. Schwartz shared a startling fact with the audience. Ever since 2003 and 2004, automobile usage in America has been declining. People have started walking more and using other forms of transit. Why is this happening? Mr. Schwartz says millennials are breaking the mold and choosing alternate forms of transportation. He joked that the reality is many kids leave for the night and don’t always know how they will be getting home. They value mobility more and options are now the new expression of freedom. Millennials are not opposed to walking, biking, bus riding and using uber or other forms of transit to get around.
So if automobile usage in the US is declining, why are more roads being built and old roads being widened? Mr. Schwartz said this is the transportation industries natural reaction to an increase in population. He does not believe that this is the solution, “You can’t keep building highways and think you’re going to solve the transportation problem”. Indeed, some highways in LA have been increased to 14 lanes and still the city battles traffic issues.
LA is now investing in transit more than anyone else in the country. They are building a transit system that will transform the way the city moves. As LA changes its approach to transportation Sam says there has been a shift in the community. The streets in LA are slowly coming back to life. People are walking and biking more, the city is thriving.
Sam Schwartz wants to see this happen in Tampa. It is important that we do not look down upon the transit system as a lesser form of transportation, but instead dedicate the time and resources into building a system that everyone will enjoy utilizing. Only then will we begin to solve traffic issues in Tampa. This will also keep millennials and our future business leaders in Tampa.
Lend your voice to the transportation issue in Tampa! It’s time to resolve the traffic issues in Tampa to make way for growth and ensure the bright future of this city. Visit the Sam Schwartz website to learn more.
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This post was written by Elevate, Inc.