To Fix Transit, We Must Fix Democracy First

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This is an interesting article on GovTech about how we have to fix transit in order to fix cities.

The problem?

We have to fix democracy first.

You see, what’s happening is that we have endorsed the sprawl model for the last 100 years in North America at expense of the core. European cities have gone the other way and are succeeding with plans to build onto existing infrastructure.

In Europe, greater intensity of population in core areas result in greater decisions for the core that ultimately benefit everyone.

In North America, more sprawl translates to a dilution of municipal, provincial/state and federal voting into the hands of people that aren’t as motivated to change their ways of commuting and transportation as people in urban areas are.

Most of the response has typically come out as ‘I don’t want my taxpayer dollars going towards that … (subway, bike lane, downtown entertainment facility, etc) because I’ll never use it’.

This results in representation that also dilutes efforts to consolidate nodes within cities. Councilors, MPPs, MPs and others wind up being torn between what should be sensible objectives that will enhance the standard of living at the expense of the ‘me first’ mentality of car culture.

If we’re going to build great cities and fix issues like climate change and increasing levels of green-house gases, we have to rethink how our representation responds to car drivers as opposed to pedestrians, cyclists, commuters and maybe even a small handful of progressive drivers.

Of course, the greatest challenge will be to tip the scales in favour of urban voters. This may result in ‘city states’ that emerge and fund themselves as opposed to constantly going out to a public that is unwilling or uninterested in supporting bigger projects.

It’ll also mean rethinking how and why we let sprawl continue.

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