Submitted by Christopher Aiken, San Juan County, Community Transportation

30 Apr 2012 2:11 PM | Deleted user

While this WSRO conference was not my first, it was my first representing San Juan County, and my first WSRO scholarship receipt. I thank the WSRO board for supporting my attendance. I found many useful and applicable ideas for my work in San Juan County, primarily from Todd Litman and Brian Lagerberg.

I enjoyed Todd Litman’s presentation immensely. Mr. Litman is an engaging speaker and a very relatable expert, he describes concepts in instantly accessible way, which is fitting for him as one of his main points revolved around mobility vs. accessibility. Another main topic from Todd was the idea of government needing to shift from compartmentalized functions acting in self-interest and at times working counterproductive to one another, to comprehensive and preventative planning models anticipating problems and preventing crisis. I think this is a fundamental building block for government looking to the future, we cannot continue to wait to respond to pressure or wait until things change around us to act on them, we must actively participate in the changing itself.

Another major piece I took away from Todd’s talk was the idea of multi-modal LOS. I work with engineers who glaze over immediately at the words “complete streets” or “non-motorized infrastructure,” but I think the concept of multi-modal LOS and developing a San Juan County specific approach to defining that LOS could improve the conversation significantly.

As a former employee of WSDOT, and specifically as a former employee of Brian Lagerberg’s, I’ve heard Brian speak about Moving Washington numerous times before. Always quirky, often zany, Brian truly “brings it” to the Moving Washington concept. I always appreciate Brian’s willingness to be both human and a WSDOT Director, it’s not that easy to do. I have always viewed Moving Washington as a bit of a Trojan Horse program, just waiting for the right time surprise everyone and change the world of Washington State transportation. I hope that time is now; it would be stunning and perhaps paradigm-shifting in itself to hear WSDOT employees from all parts of the state talking about Moving Washington and how it impacts and informs their day-to-day work.

Another important concept Brian mentioned was about the lack of comprehensive transportation system performance measures, he pointed out we measure parts or pieces, but not the whole. I connected this back with Todd’s point about multi-modal LOS, maybe this represents the beginnings of more comprehensive performance measures.

As optimism is a super power I happen to share with Brian, I believe we are all capable of changing our worlds just by being engaged. And while few things actually change overnight (daylight savings, the Eastern Hemisphere), being engaged is not about one conversation and saying it just right, it’s about STAYING engaged, even when it’s difficult and uncomfortable. Anyone can say something once and walk away it’s making the choice to try again in spite it being hard that leaves the door open. It’s all about creating the space for change, by being willing to sit out there in the middle, and simply hold the space until change arrives.

Christopher Aiken

San Juan County, Community Transportation

Updated 2020
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