Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission‘s Transportation Demand Management program, RIDE Solutions, partnered with local anti-poverty and environmental nonprofit The Cabell Brand Center to host the region’s first Sustainable Transportation Summit. The goal of the Summit was to introduce concepts beyond those one might find at a typical planning conference – though concepts like complete streets, transit-oriented development, and transportation demand management were discussed, the Summit went a step further to get into the “whys” of supporting sustainable transportation options.
In particular, the Summit featured a panel of women involved in The Advancement Foundation, a local group that works with citizens struggling to escape poverty. The women shared real-life stories of trying to escape poverty in a car-centric world, including managing time when the public transit system has very low frequencies and long trip times, and dealing with the realities of managing children as a single mom – a problem not uncommon among impoverished women. Additionally, representatives from the local Healthy Roanoke Valley group discussed the health implications of transportation choice and the build environment, touching on diverse subject such as childhood obesity, access to healthy food, perceptions of safety, and access to opportunity.
The Summit wove together a number of typical and atypical elements of the region’s transportation network to make a compelling case for transportation choice. A post-summit survey revealed the audience was particularly surprised by and interested in the issues of health and poverty more than the engineering and design-focused topics. The conference is the first in an annual series, with a hope for more single-topic focused workshops throughout the year.
The Sustainable Transportation Summit was awarded a 2014 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award. View descriptions of other award winning projects here.