The photo below is Albuquerque’s main street circa 1960 from this article. The article is a tough read (I don’t necessarily recommend it), but the picture shows where we are coming from. This is the legacy we inherited and are redesigning to an environment that invites mobility freedom.
The San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District — slocleanair.org — is doing some really cool things. They have this character named Eco Man who draws attention to positive behaviors. Getting to work and conducting business in an efficient way is good and natural. Eco Man helps trigger those thought processes and points out the exceptional power in human decision making. Eco Man is really corny. I like him. I could see him working at Esperanza in ABQ.
Another dimension of creating change is putting clues and signals in the landscape, such as infrastructure for walking and biking, that make for attractive places. One of the changes in infrastructure we are seeing pop up around Albuquerque is the sharrow. It is cheap and basically gets more sustainability value out of the existing infrastructure by inviting people to bicycle where they are already should be bicycling. It is a little “yes we can”. Yes we can bicycle and walk more beginning today Albuquerque and the American Southwest. The sharrow and things like “share the road” signs and bike lanes help activate the sustainable transportation potential. Keep looking for ways to use the natural and built environment in healthy ways.
The places to ride here are amazing. SLO has a few programs we could adopt for Albuquerque that would help incentive change here too. I’m pulling these from their newsletter May 2015:
1) Wood burning device changout program. They’ll give you $1,000 or $2,000 dollars to change over to a clean burning heating system.
2) Rideshare rewards. They’ll pay you to choose an option other than driving your car solo to work or school. It can be the bus, the bicycle, skateboard (kids are smart), telecommute, etc.
They also have a clean school bus program . They are changing out older dirty diesel engines or adding particulate filters to make them cleaner. This is critical since young people’s lungs are more vulnerable when developing, and also helps buoy mental attitudes when we see greener buses and heavy machinery operating with care. I think we’ve got what it takes in Albuquerque and all we have to do is get behind initiatives that help us all and take a course of action to be a part of the positive change. This is something that would be good to rush after.