What We’re Reading: Asking the Right Questions

  • Author: Andrew Carpenter
  • Date: February 22, 2018

Building off of last week’s post about the need to set a positive narrative, it’s important for mobility managers to approach decisions and programming with questions in hand. By framing decisions and programs through a questioning approach, it can help dig out important ideas around what communities hope to accomplish.

Jarrett Walker provides a good example of this by starting with an overarching question of whether or not microtransit is a sensible investment for agencies. Through his post, Walker leads readers through the flow of questions that are important for decision-makers to ask, but also makes sure to leave it open for debate. He provides a helpful framework for mobility managers to guide discussions about decisions in their communities.

From a different perspective, the growing number of towns outsourcing their transportation services to ridehailing companies like Uber should provoke questions among mobility managers about if this is the best option for their community. While in the short term it seems like an opportunity to save money, there are many pitfalls that await communities and public mobility as private companies gain control over residents’ movement.

From another perspective, the Eno Center highlights the need for communities to consider the variety of details that impact residents’ mobility. By asking what entities are responsible for accessibility to transit stops, as opposed to just the stops themselves, it shows the need to look beyond the silo of any one system.

With this in mind, readers should add the Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment’s Accessibility Measurement Tool to their toolkits. The guide “describes ways of measuring accessibility and, more importantly, how to use those metrics in planning … and decision[making].”

Policymakers should also use a questioning strategy to identify the real barriers to accomplishing their goals for their communities. For example, municipalities tend to criminalize pedestrians despite the lack appropriate facilities for safe walking, while road deaths are instead caused by people behind the wheel. To truly improve safety, those in charge need to rebuild their understanding of what they want from a livable community and understand that pedestrians are not a danger to mobility.

TransitCenter has compiled a digest of lessons learned about transit ridership based on research over the past year that provides useful context for discussions about how communities can improve their transportation options.

There’s potential to learn even more lessons on community movement through the rise of dockless bikeshare. One Wired contributor, in fact, relishes the questions planners must consider as data begins to roll in on how people have been utilizing them, saying to “bring on the bikeocalypse.”


Image Credit: Lock the Gate Alliance, Flickr, CC BY 2.0


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Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (kashner@ctaa.org).

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