November 23 2011

Alternative Modes: Public Transportation, Walkability, and Skiability

No Car to Park!

The discussion of alternative modes of transportation has pervaded comprehensive planning as we strive to create more sustainable communities. Bikeable, walkable communities, improve health, increase civic participation, reduce carbon emissions, and much more. Alternative transportation has become more important to us. Cutting edge websites that calculate the walkability of places now allow us to compare and contrast locations and hundreds of places are being named Bicycle Friendly Communities.

But what kinds of alternative transportation can urban planners, architects, and landscape architects plan for in communities that experience heavy snowfall during much of the year? Could cross-country skiing provide an alternative during the winter months? Incentivizing walking, biking, and skiing during the winter months could benefit small resort towns that have minimal parking and space for snow storage as well as fragile natural environments.

However, creating walkable communities during the winter months poses additional infrastructure and engineering issues including sidewalk maintenance and expensive snow removal. While implementing these initiatives is a key step in promoting alternative transportation, the necessary infrastructure may take time and money to develop.

A temporary solution might be to designate certain sidewalks as cross-country ski paths to allow for commuters and shoppers to ski through town with ease. These paths do not have to be plowed. Employers and merchants can give incentives to those who use alternative modes of transportation such as skiing. The League of American Bicyclists provides “Commuter Tax Reimbursement Cards” on their website, which allows employers to reimburse bikers for the cost of maintenance to their bicycles. A similar incentive could be given for skiing to work. Employers and merchants alike can easily give discounts or coupons to alternative commuters.

Mammoth Lakes, CA should seriously consider incentivizing skiing if the town wants to earn industry distinction as a premier winter resort community. By promoting alternative transportation, small resort towns can promote their communities, increase economic development, and preserve the environment by being leaders in the modern design of sustainable plans.

Have you ever wanted to enjoy a winter wonderland by skiing to work?

Credits: Image linked to source.

Patricia Kent

Patricia Kent wrote for The GRID between October 2011 and October 2012. During this time she was a graduate student in Community & Regional Planning with a concentration in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She was also a recent transplant to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Her interests ranged from political theory and public policy to sustainable tourism. A strong advocate for participatory planning practices, her studies focused on community capacity building and economic development. She believed in fostering entrepreneurship in communities. Currently, Patricia is working on economic sustainability policies that benefit both the preservation of the Eastern Sierras as well as the ever-increasing tourist population.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 1:30 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Alternative Modes: Public Transportation, Walkability, and Skiability”

  1. Alexandria Says:

    I could definitely envision cross-country skiiers in northern Michigan towns! Unfortunately, Michigan weather and Detroit’s reliance on the automobile presents many obstacles to establishing walkability… It’s good to think outside the box!

    I encourage readers to visit WalkScore to find out how they rate on walkability http://www.walkscore.com/

    Your GRID Co-Blogger,
    Alexandria

  2. Patricia Kent Says:

    Thanks Alexandria!

    Walkability is a huge issue everywhere. It’s hard to get people out of their cars so thinking outside of the box is extremely important!

    I also really like walkscore.com. I think it’s an excellent tool for everyone to use to learn more about walkable (and not-so-walkable) places.

    Your GRID Co-Blogger,
    Patricia

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