It is What You Make It. Submitted by Mark Melnyk, TDM and Outreach Specialist, Community Transit

16 May 2012 8:27 AM | Deleted user

How many times have you heard someone say “it is what you make it”?  This statement is simple in construction yet complex in practice especially if you want to make it, successful.

For over 20 years, ridesharing professionals like myself, have been working with a public that is generally resistant to choosing a commute alternative.  The it consists of programs, campaigns and other initiatives aimed at encouraging behavioral change that leads to the goals of reduced air pollution, traffic congestion and energy consumption.  However, finding new ways to achieve these goals in the face of budget reductions can be downright discouraging especially when resources that offer creative approaches and new ideas seem to be dwindling.

That is why I value my participation in WSRO and attending their conferences.  Each conference offers a variety of speakers on current topics in the field of ridesharing and transportation demand management. The past WSRO conference, Adapting to a Changing Environment, was especially beneficial in generating new ideas on how I can make a difference. Todd Litman, from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, got things started with a presentation that introduced the idea that communities can achieve greater mobility by enhancing accessibility. By focusing on local infrastructure changes, such as making it easier to walk to a transit hub, a community can gain greater mobility through better access to regional transportation.  This shift in thinking serves as a reminder that the longest trip can be traveled with small steps.

The great ideas and information did not end with Todd Litman. Brian Lagerberg, from WSDOT, presented information on the Moving Washington program while encouraging us to make the “intellectual choice to be an optimist” and embrace the opportunity to be a “positive agent of change”.  Since we are to be the agents of change the right mindset makes all the difference.  A positive approach helps us facilitate the efforts that expand the conversation to include multiple stakeholders that have just as much to gain with our success as we do.  By increasing the number of stakeholders, we are able to expand our access to resources we need to accomplish our goals.

While Lagerberg’s presentation was energetic and inspiring, the panel discussion on whether or not electric vehicles should be considered a commute alternative provided the biggest charge. The panel explored this topic in great detail, offering a variety of perspectives, but did not come to a conclusive answer.  However, this presentation will definitely serve as a conduit for future conversations as this idea and technology continues to advance.

The conference offered many topics that provided a fresh outlook on the programs I work with on a daily basis. While the challenges that I work with each day did not disappear, I did gain new ideas on how to approach them. The work that I continue to do will be what I make it.  However, now after attending the recent WSRO conference, I feel more confident that what I make it will be more successful.

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