Transportation is changing. For the past 100 years or so we’ve been building our cities to accommodate cars as they have opened up new areas for development and allowed people to travel farther and more comfortably than ever before. But once we designed our stores, houses, parks, schools, libraries and other public places for cars we realized we lost something: the human scale that facilitates social interaction and gives a community its character.
That’s why our crown jewel is so appealing. The courthouse square was built in a time before cars when we valued the public space much more than we do today. Fortunately, city designers and engineers are starting to realize that designing our cities for cars is counterproductive. Cars don’t make a community, people do. So we need to reconfigure our public spaces to better serve people with less of an emphasis on cars.
For instance, why don’t our trails connect population and retail centers? A typical trail in Noblesville circulates around a subdivision. That’s fine for recreation but doesn’t do anything for someone who wants to walk to the store to get groceries. There is no trail out of the Wellingtons. South Harbor doesn’t connect to a grocery store other than by a road. You can’t get from Deer Path to Hamilton Town Center on a trail even though its right down the street. None of our apartment complexes connect to stores and the library is virtually inaccessible other than by car.
We sorely need transportation diversity here in Noblesville. We need to prioritize walking and riding as well as cars, and run trails to places people want to go. Trails aren’t just for recreation. They ought to be viable transportation alternatives, designed to keep people safe while giving them an alternative to driving.
I propose an actual system of trails in Noblesville that would run through our neighborhoods and to our shopping areas, government and public spaces. I call it the Noblesville Trailway and I describe it in more detail on my Better Noblesville website.
This could be a distinguishing characteristic of Noblesville and make us more attractive to businesses and young people, who often reject cars.
At the same time we need to tame our streets. The emphasis on moving traffic as quickly as possible without regard to its effect on pedestrians has led to some dangerous situations. Have you ever tried to get to Federal Hill Commons on foot or by bike? There are many ways to take back our streets and we need to get working on them.
Diversity almost always makes a community stronger, whether you are talking about people, industry, income, housing or transportation. Let’s diversify our transportation options to make the community more appealing and healthier.