Spreading "audacious" ideas from coast to coast

Shannon Tracey Headshot

At TransForm, we believe that transportation can help solve two of the biggest crises we face today: social inequality and climate change.  Chipping away at these huge problems is often a slow and unglamorous process. It takes a long time to build support for solutions that are long overdue for adoption – such as investing more money in public transportation, biking, and walking, or making sure community planning reflects the vision and needs of the people in that community.

But to truly tackle these crises, we need to move faster and think more creatively. As it so happens, imagining and promoting creative solutions is something that TransForm has long excelled at.  For nearly twenty years, we’ve helped make the Bay Area a crucible for forging and testing new approaches to complex problems.

So we’re thrilled that, in the past two weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to share our thinking with leaders as close as Palo Alto, and as far as New York, to explain new ideas that have the potential to be game-changers in transportation, climate, and equity.

West Coast

Earlier this month, TransForm executive director Stuart Cohen and I were invited to a roundtable at the Emerson Collective in Palo Alto, where we joined other advocates to share our plans for state-level climate policy work in 2016.  We showcased Climate Benefits for California, our initiative to publicize how California’s climate program is improving people’s lives through many strategies, including investing in new affordable homes near public transportation.

You may be asking, what do affordable homes have to do with greenhouse gas emissions?  Research we did in 2014, along with the California Housing Partnership Corporation, showed that building more affordable homes near good transit can significantly reduce climate pollution. And California’s leaders are taking notice!

Click here to listen to my brief explanation of affordable homes as a climate strategy, via the Emerson Collective website.

East Coast

Then, last week, Steven Higashide from TransitCenter in New York City paid us a visit for an update on our work to rethink the Bay Area’s express lane network (funded in part by TransitCenter).

Express lanes don’t have a good reputation when it comes to advancing social justice.  But that’s where our policy proposal has the potential to be groundbreaking. By converting existing highway lanes instead of building new ones, we can create “Robin Hood lanes” that invest the toll revenues in public transportation and other alternatives to solo driving, and spread the benefits to people who don’t even own a car. 

And last year, an analysis of this concept concluded not only that it would work, but would be the most effective way to reduce traffic along highway 101 in San Mateo County.

While he was here, Steven interviewed community planner Clarrissa Cabansagan and deputy director Jeff Hobson about what he referred to as our “audacious” express lanes idea.  You can read the interview on TransitCenter’s blog.

We’re grateful to our partners on both coasts for supporting our work, and for helping spread the word. We believe our ideas can help not only the Bay Area and California, but also other communities throughout the nation and, while we’re dreaming big, the world. 

But it’s not all interviews and accolades. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead to turn these ideas into reality.  And you can help: learn more about our advocacy on state climate policy and Bay Area express lanes, and donate to become a part of our movement. 

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.