Happy New Year: Here are 8 Resolutions for Sustainable Transportation Advocates

Photo: Moritz Knöringer, CC
Photo: Moritz Knöringer, CC

Here at Streetsblog, we firmly believe that we can all play a role in ending car dependency in America. But could we end it even faster if every reader of this site committed to a whole year of advocacy — or even just making the kind of small, intentional, daily changes that chip away at car culture over time?

As we open on 2023, here are some ideas for sustainable-transportation-centered resolutions that we think can make a meaningful difference in U.S. communities — inspired by you.

1. Take a local leader on a bike ride

Something as simple as going on a walk or roll around the neighborhood with friends can change the way you see your city forever. Doing it with a local elected or transportation reporter, though, can help people with real power see what people outside cars deal with every day, and create a moving forum for solutions.

Want to make it a regular thing? Check out our conversation with Equiticity’s Olatunji Oboi Reed on how “community mobility rituals” like weekly group rides and monthly walking clubs can be a powerful tool for change.

2. Write (or tweet) a letter to the editor every time your local paper calls a crash an ‘accident’

Studies show that news stories that describe car crashes as “accidents” or tacitly blame pedestrians for their own deaths can actually convince the public that nothing can be done to save lives. This year, let’s commit to making noise every time a journalist uses the a-word, whether that’s a simple Tweet or a full-on op-ed about why we need to change the narrative about traffic violence.

Bonus point: learn about the structural reasons why so many journalists simply regurgitate the text of police crash reports — and then give your local police a handy template to write better ones.

Study Seeks To Get Cops To Write Better Crash Reports

3. Shake up the school drop-off routine

People with kids don’t always have much of a choice about the daily school run, especially if they don’t have the time  to do much more than get them on the yellow bus. But if you live within rolling distance of the classroom, maybe you could make active transportation a part of your child’s daily routine this year by putting them on the bike bus instead — by starting one in your local district.

4. Honor a crash victim

Car crash victims are rarely memorialized in the public realm. Maybe this should be the year you join your local ghost bike crew, or start your own — or maybe, you can dream big and create a permanent, mass memorial to victims of traffic violence, like this one in New York City. 

Why There Are So Few Monuments to Traffic Violence Victims — And Why It Matters

5. Don’t take bus delays lying down

On-time service is a must for a functioning transit network. That’s why this Streetsblog reader’s resolving to speak up when the bus doesn’t come, on behalf of themselves and other riders who deserve better.

While you’re at it, maybe write a follow-up email to your legislators advocating for bus rapid transit, real-time arrival screens, and more resources to transit agencies in general.

6. Learn about an under-the radar sustainable city

Maybe you read some excellent books about sustainable transportation superstar cities in Europe in 2022. In 2023, though, why not challenge yourself to learn about some countries that are less famous, but no less incredible at creating people-centered design?

If you have the resources, you might even start planning a trip to visit one of them for yourself.

7. Learn about taking direct action for safe streets

Now, we’re not saying you should do anything illegal in your quest for safer streets, and you should certain never deface public property with anything as heinous as high-visibility paint … but there certainly are a lot of resources on how to do its safely and effectively if you’re curious.

Crosswalk Collective L.A. Posts Instructions for DIY Crosswalks

8. Share the joy

We write a lot here at Streetsblog about all the terrible things that happen when you don’t put people first in the transportation space. It’s just as important, though, to acknowledge all the amazing things that happen when you do — and how much more fun, peaceful, and free life can be when we slow down and experience life at human scale.

So every time you get angry at a driver for side-swiping a pedestrian or a policymaker for dropping the ball on a critical law – which you should! — let’s challenge ourselves to take a moment to share why walking, biking, navigating your city independently with an assistive device, and taking shared transportation is such a powerful form of pleasure activism. And make a point to share that message with people who might have forgotten just how joyful it can be.

Got other ideas? Add ’em to this Twitter thread.


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