Moving away from our 'car-centric culture' could happen with millennials
In my previous post, I discussed the suburb of Johns Creek’s rejection of public transit expansion. That rejection is a representation of the thinking that got the metro area into the place where it is these days. Today, cities like Johns Creek are part of a car-centric culture that produces massive traffic jams, lack of transportation choices and poor air quality.
There’s been much talk about attracting businesses of all stripes to the metro area over the past few years. It’s no secret that attracting businesses to the Atlanta metro area means attracting young talent. According to scores of surveys, that young talent wishes to utilize public transportation. The communities that already have MARTA rail service are in a good position to attract companies and young people to move there thus expanding their already-growing tax bases.
At the moment, Johns Creek is going in the opposite direction by operating on antiquated thinking. One needs to look at Kimball Bridge Road, State Bridge Road and Fulton County’s Medlock Bridge Road. It is impossible to argue that these roads are just fine. They are multi-lane nightmares. On certain days, it’s hard to believe that folks are okay with the current traffic plan in places like Johns Creek.
There’s sentiment that when this current older yet influential generation in places like Johns Creek ages and moves away, then things will change. That same sentiment hit Atlanta’s Buckhead community with the opposition to the Peachtree Road bike lane proposal. Interestingly, Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell announced that the organization is against bike lanes. It’s not that the former Atlanta mayor is 100 percent against the bike lanes, it’s that he says that now is not the time. It’s safe to say that Massell realizes that future generations will push to reformulate Peachtree Road into bike-friendly territory. So, there’s the difference. The Buckhead Coalition chief recognizes the generation differences, yet that fact does not seem to be noted in Johns Creek.
Indeed Peachtree Road is already a congested thoroughfare that features narrow car lanes. While folks have been white-knuckling it, doing their best to avoid horrible accidents on Peachtree Road, there are scores of Buckhead residents and visitors alike who would like to be able to bike down this legendary road.
The car-centric culture is a set of dated ideas that got us with dangerous multi-lane highways which are quite frankly, bad for business. It’s tough for businesses that cannot get noticed on busy thoroughfares. Even if businesses on busy roads do well, they lose customers due to the fact that it can be rough getting in and out of those businesses’ parking lots.
The car-centric culture is hardly a characteristic assigned just to the Atlanta metro region. Most of the modern United States is designed this way as we moved away from public transportation. Currently we’re seeing trends here with Baby Boomers and a good deal of Generation X adhering to the ideals of our car-centric culture. By being engaged, perhaps the millennial generation will inspire change from our car-centric culture.