Movability’s Director and Membership Manager traveled to Portland, Oregon this summer to attend the Association for Commuter Transportation’s 2016 International Conference. The annual conference is a gathering of mobility professionals from around the world, so it’s a great place to hear ideas, learn about new technology and design, and see what other organizations like Movability are up to.
“For me one of the big things overall, as a first time attendee, was the solidarity of meeting so many others in the industry who are facing similar challenges and opportunities to what we deal with on a daily basis,” says Alix Scarborough, Movability’s Membership Manager.
Here were some of the key takeaways from the conference:
- While Austin’s fast growth – and the mobility challenges that brings in a city that’s been designed around cars – isn’t something every city is experiencing, leadership in many cities are rethinking that car-centric design. Increasingly, as cities grow and roads everywhere become more clogged, public and private leaders are using strategies that encourage and help people make the choice to get around without using a single-occupant vehicle, an approach known as Transportation Demand Management.
- Part of looking at mobility through this new lens is re-examining costs. Building new road capacity is no longer considered the best use of money in all cases, as new lanes fill up with more traffic. On the other hand, transportation oriented development that takes shape around transit stops – and that includes bike share – shows that spending transportation dollars on other mobility options leads to greater return on investment.
- There’s some exciting new technology out there, from autonomous vehicles that communicate with each other, to development of Mobility as a Service software and carpool apps.
There’s also a bright new future ahead of us, both in terms of a wave of young people entering the workforce (Millennials will comprise half of the workforce by 2020) and in terms of the students who will shape our future cities.
“I want to see more students involved in this field,” Scarborough says. “Transportation Demand Management is going to be more and more important as our cities grow, so I would like to find ways to integrate it into planning and public policy schools.”