Fighting for Transit-Oriented Development in Wisconsin

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we check in again with John Michlig, who writes the blog Sprawled Out from Franklin, Wisconsin.

Michlig has a blow-by-blow account of his often frustrating attempt to raise the issue of transit-oriented development at a meeting of the Economic Development Committee of his city:

2817590468_241ec6a0b3_m.jpgThe status quo in Franklin, Wisconsin. Photo by John Michlig.

My feeling — if this hasn’t been made clear already — is that Franklin needs to embrace smart growth principles and prepare for upcoming transit improvements — including rail in nearby Oak Creek —
in order to remain relevant economically and as a community.

In
a postindustrial society, people need not go where the "factory" is; they choose communities based on desires such as: good parks, walkable neighborhoods, access to transit, vibrant public spaces, etc. That’s what modern opinion polls reveal.

Now that the federal government has made transit and smart growth high priorities, companies will look to locate in areas where these factors have been addressed; there will surely be tax breaks and other incentives to encourage use of transit for their workforce.

[When I raised the] notion of walkable neighborhoods, schools that can be walked to by kids who live mere blocks away, connected street systems, and the end of built-for-speed subdivision roads,  [t]here were sighs. Eyes rolled. Now, that’s not to say that each and every member of the commission expressed annoyance. However, the ones who may have agreed kept quiet.

On my tape, I can hear a commission member audibly scoff and chuckle as I describe the fact that teens have to get vehicles of their own simply to get to work and school — and teens are by far the most dangerous driving population.

Michlig’s experience in the trenches of Franklin (which we’ve highlighted before) is a reminder of how much work needs to be done at the grassroots level to change American minds about the inevitability of an autocentric lifestyle. It’s also a reminder of how many people are doing that work and making a difference. Michlig promises that part three of his account of the meeting, which is still to come, ends on a high note. We’ll be watching.

Elsewhere around the network: If you haven’t alrady seen the hugs ’n’ helmets cop video from Denmark, you can find it at Carfree USA; Grieve-Smith on Transportation discusses the counterflow bus lanes in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and The City Fix reports on Zipcar’s entry into municipal fleet management.

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