My Facebook post today reads: “Another awesome walk to work this morning on the Superior Hiking Trail—despite the snow—or maybe because of it!”
Within seconds a friend (an actual friend, in this case) responded “I did the same. I love Chester Park.”
Another commented “You are the luckiest commuter ever!”
This exchange reminded me of the simple, real-life benefits of one of our favorite concepts here at the MIC: multi-modal transportation networks.
It’s all about options
From a transportation planning perspective, a multi-modal transportation network refers to a balance of infrastructure that supports multiple modes of travel — a mix of roads, air, marine/port, rail, public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian facilities (including paved and non-paved trails). This mix is plainly visible on any given day in the Duluth-Superior area.
From a societal and governmental perspective, multi-modal transportation networks have been widely supported because a balanced transportation system encourages economic growth, reduces congestion and environmental impacts, and improves mobility and access to transportation.
From my personal perspective, though, a multi-modal transportation network means that I have options. It was just too nice of a morning to get in my car and drive (the very walkable distance of) two and a half miles.
Trails as commuter pathways
One big advantage of living in Duluth, Minnesota, is the proximity of urban areas to green spaces. A multi-modal system, in this city, means that I can walk out my back door onto the Superior Hiking Trail, which in turn intersects with our urban streets infrastructure across Skyline Parkway (as scenic a walk as you could ask for), down through a couple of local neighborhoods and to our downtown office.
And a community-wide vision is emerging for Duluth to become the premier trail city in North America. Developing an inter-connected trails system will provide not just outstanding recreational opportunities but compelling transportation options as well.
Quality of life improvement
Bottom line, I don’t have to get in my car and drive every time I need to go somewhere. I’m able to travel on foot (or by bike or by bus), and I consider that a big quality of life enhancement.
How about you?
Do you have an awesome walk to work of your own? Would you like to be able to walk or bike more often in your daily life? Does it make sense to continue to fund multi-modal transportation networks? (More on that topic to follow…)