Transportation Plan Should Not Bypass Livable Communities

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe McAndrew and Cortney Mild

Congress is more than two years late on a new reauthorization of America's transportation program, a bill that sets the direction of funding for automotive, freight, bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation for several years.

However late Congress may be, it is coalescing around a bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21.

The bill should be lauded for its bipartisan approach in today's uncivil arena. Its provisions should be thoroughly considered and its implications understood, especially by America's college-age citizens.

MAP-21 takes positive steps to improve our transportation system, but we feel changes should be made to ensure this bill works for all Americans. It has been introduced at a time when America no longer can afford to build our way toward automobile dependency and the negative side effects that result.

The millennials, people born between 1980 and 2000, make up a quarter of all Americans. Strapped with the debt from our parents' generation, we are being forced to make decisions unseen in recent times.

Our generation is leaving college with bleak job prospects, delaying marriage by an average of five years and largely choosing to live in urban settings. City life offers our generation greater diversity of employment, along with affordable options for mobility and livability.

Most importantly, we are choosing to move there with our feet, not with our cars. The market is responding, and so are America's employers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation states that businesses are locating where employees can live, work and play, coinciding with increased economic opportunity. Millennials support healthy and sustainable communities, and we see transportation as an important factor in this.

The University of Oregon and the city of Eugene understand this issue. According to the UO's 2009 Transportation Survey, 28 percent of students and 7 percent of staff walk to campus; 19 percent of students and 11 percent of staff take public transit; 17 percent of students and 15 percent of staff ride bikes; and 11 percent of students and 49 percent of staff use private automobiles to travel to campus.

Additionally, more than 8 percent of Eugene residents commute to work by bicycle, contributing to Oregon being the national leader in bicycle commuting. …