Zero-Emission Transportation for All

Active transportation infrastructure is much less expensive to build, repair and maintain per mile than vehicular infrastructure—not only costing less to construct initially, but also making adaptation to changing conditions more feasible. However, major investments are nevertheless needed to ensure complete networks that are safe, comfortable and convenient for walking, biking, transit, and other non-car transportation modes. This will require prioritizing spending on these kinds of infrastructure over investments in the car- and truck-serving infrastructure that traditionally has taken the lion’s share of local transportation dollars.

Building Climate-Friendly Infrastructure

In addition to continuing build-out of regional trail systems, Humboldt County’s communities—particularly the more populated coastal communities around Humboldt Bay—should focus on transforming many on-street parking and vehicle travel lanes into a combination of wider obstruction-free sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and bus-only lanes, as well as pedestrian- and bike-friendly landscaping, street furniture and parklets. Where appropriate, they should convert some streets to pedestrian-only areas or “shared streets”—which allow vehicles but prioritize pedestrian movement. They should redesign intersections to prioritize the comfort and safety of people using non-vehicular modes. Finally, they should invest in a complete network of public and private electric vehicle charging stations.

Piecemeal development of network elements (a bike lane or sidewalk here, a charging station there) has been the standard approach for many years in most jurisdictions, but this approach is slow, expensive, and unlikely to maximize effects. Therefore, rapid implementation of complete networks is necessary.

Incentivizing Climate-Friendly Modes

Local governments need to:

  1. Rewrite land use regulations so that new development is no longer required to be designed primarily for cars. Remove minimum car parking requirements and establish maximums.
  2. Manage and price street space (primarily curbs and public parking lots) appropriately. We can no longer afford to give away public space for free private vehicle parking. Instead, we should build more and more and better bike parking and electric vehicle charging stations.
  3. Create new incentives to use climate-friendly modes of transportation. Provide rebates for bikes, e-bikes, and other electric vehicles, as well as for charging stations. Work with landlords, developers, and employers to implement incentives for non-vehicular travel and electric vehicles.

Investing in Local Transit

To compete with cars, local transit systems should go fare-free, increase frequency on key routes, and design more effective route systems, including transit hubs with last-mile connections. To meet climate goals, local transit needs to rapidly transition to electric buses. This will all require a significant investment of local dollars, probably generated by local taxes or fees.