CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN TRANSPORTATION POLICY AND ENGINEERING PRACTICE: We Won’t “Bend The Trend” Until Professional Culture Changes
Thirty-seven percent of Bostonian households (37%!) don’t own a car. But that still leaves most of us, especially suburban and rural dwellers, car dependent – forced because of the individually-varying distances between our homes and workplaces and shopping/socializing destinations to use individual vehicles to get around. Our transportation system has to acknowledge and service that reality.
While ignoring the current need for cars is both functionally and politically self-destructive, ignoring the need to “bend the curve” of future demand would be even worse. While Massachusetts policy regarding transportation infrastructure has begun recognizing these realities, and actual road design has significantly improved, the gap between vision and reality is still enormous. And a key reason is the lag between new ideas and their incorporation into the transportation profession’s culture. We need to change some of the metrics and defaults that shape road engineer’s decisions to nudge them towards more creative and complete incorporation of the new vision and values into their work.