Community Planning Group Encourages Biking and Walking

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Minnesota-based Community Planning group called 'Smart Towns' is currently touring Idaho to share their ideas for re-modelling the average American community to be less automobile-centric. An important idea in our growing environment of commuter communities, incorporating more biking and walking into our communities would be overall healthier, would create a more cost-effective lifestyle, and more responsible use of tax funds.

As explained in Strong Towns' Mission Statement

"The current approach to growth emphasizes investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development. This approach uses public dollars inefficiently, destructively subsidizes one type of development over another and leaves massive maintenance liabilities to future generations.

A Strong Town approach emphasizes obtaining a higher return on existing infrastructure investments. We can no longer simply disregard old investments in favor of new, but instead we need to focus on making better use of that which we are already committed to publicly maintain."

Planning more responsibly for community growth and development will allow our communities to bolster public transit and provide on-going support for bike paths and walking trails, rather than pouring funds into highway expansion and the constant expense of maintenance.

CTAI encourages all Idahoans to take advantage of opportunities to educate yourself on the status of your community, and certainly to let your own voice be heard! Strong Towns' 'Curbside Chat' programs will be on-going throughout Idaho until February 22nd and will include a community-specific discussion session. 

Bike and Pedestrian Funding Still on the Chopping Block Come the March Reauthorization

Friday, September 16, 2011

Although the Senate has agreed to extend the existing transportation bill for six months without any policy changes, The Washington Post reports that Senator Coburn of Oklahoma is expected to work to eliminate the small program that funds the lion’s share of bike and pedestrian projects.

This program represents less than 2 percent of all federal transportation spending and for 20 years has been the primary funding source for sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and trails.

If you support biking and walking safety, contact your Congressmen and ask them to keep the funding in place to keep our bikers and walkers safe in our communities.

New ways to save, when driving alone is the only option...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

May in Motion was a call to encourage individuals to ditch their single occupancy vehicle and ride the bus, walk, bike, or carpool. My personal May in Motion challenge was to carpool and take the bus once a week, when the children were taken to piano by their dad. My success was great for carpooling, but I never quite made it on the bus.

As parents, it is hard to leave the car behind, particularly when you are concerned with potential emergencies and sick kids during the day. Locally, I had the option of signing up for the “Emergency Ride Home Program” from ACHD Commuteride. But I found excuses to get around it and found someone to carpool with me everyday instead.

The challenge came week three when I had several meetings and needed the vehicle at odd times, so carpooling was not an option and I drove alone. Although I did carpool the final week, I found out how easy it is to fall back into the convenience of driving alone.

So if it is this easy to find excuses to drive, how can I save money and lower my carbon footprint? With all the improvements in technology, I figured there must be something out there to help all of us who need to drive but can’t afford to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. So I did some research and found that Garmin nuvi navigation systems have ecoRoute software that routes the most fuel efficient way to get where you need to go. More importantly, there is a unit called the ecoRoute HD which connects to your vehicles OBD II port and acts as a diagnostic system.

According to the Garmin website, the ecoRoute HD provides customizable gauges to monitor RPM, air/fuel mixture, oil pressure, oil temp, coolant temp, air flow, fuel flow, air pressure, and more; reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) allows you to view over 4000 trouble codes, their meaning, and reset the check engine light; and, also accurate fuel consumption data can actually help you improve MPG.

So I purchased the ecoRoute HD for $87 on Amazon.com and to save money, I swapped smart phones with a coworker in order to install the Garmin Mechanic software that works on the Android platform. I tried it this past week but in all honesty, I didn’t understand the readings to well. I actually gave up on trying this with the phone as it didn't connect half the time.

Yesterday I purchased the Garmin nuvi 1490T  (a great deal at $139 after a $20 Costco rebate) to test my fuel savings and carbon footprint. Over the next few weeks I will diligently track my ecoRoute results, learn more about what the readings are telling me, and see how my gas mileage or driving improves! In addition, I am committed to carpooling to work and other appointments or meetings when possible.