Forget the war on the car, let's build a multi-modal future

Chris and Melissa Bruntlett
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ Chris and Melissa Bruntlett

Every time I hear the word silo I retch a bit inside, given that most business people wouldn't know one if they drove into it, but sometimes its business use makes sense. For instance we have bike activists and war-on-the-car don't-spend-a-dime-on-anything-else types and transit activists and walking activists and a pressure group for each of them, all those separate silos. Or should they be called Torre, after the towers of Bologna where everyone climbed up and threw stuff at each other.

That's why I have admired the work of Chris and Melissa Brunlett of Vancouver, respectively previously involved in architecture and fashion but now writing and consulting about multi-modal transportation that doesn't reject cars, but realizes that there is a wide range of modes. They sometimes rent a car-share but their main point, as noted on their website Modacity:

Together they strive to educate people and cities about the inherent benefits of moving away from a car-centric transportation model and to a more inclusive model that is accessible to people of all ages, abilities and economic means. Promoting the health, environmental and social benefits of cycling, walking and public transit, their goal is to improve upon the great strides already made in their city and beyond, creating a more open and welcoming environment for their family and the families of others.

I met Chris and Melissa when I was in Vancouver recently and asked them a number of questions related to issues I have been covering recently. They pointed me to some of their writing on the various subjects:

On Electric Bikes

In VanCityBuzz:

As Vancouver continues to invest in comfortable and accessible bike infrastructure, with a broader goal of becoming a world-class cycling destination, it becomes increasingly apparent that e-bikes will play a starring role in that journey. Their undeniable, unparalleled ability to close both the gender and age gaps, flatten hills, and remove sweat from the equation are seemingly too good to be true, addressing many of the barriers to the mass uptake of cycling as a form of urban transportation.

On young people rejecting cars:

In Spacing Magazine:

Because they are young, many still single, they are incredibly social and need the city to facilitate their need to feel connected to their peers. Living in city centres is one way they achieve this, by staying “close the action” and able to enjoy getting together with friends after work, relaxing on the weekends at local parks, and enjoying the sociability only city living can provide. Their mobility choices reflect this greatly. In general, Millennials are pragmatic — they will choose the housing and transportation options that are most convenient and meet their needs. This explains why many enjoy multi-modal transportation options instead of relying on just one.

On the importance of transit (and support of the Vancouver referendum, which lost):

On their website, Chris and Melissa say that they are " focused on inspiring healthier, happier, simpler forms of urban mobility through words, photography and film." I have been following their work for a few years, particularly their discussion of British Columbia's mandatory helmet laws (see the related links below) and was impressed with their writing; they also charming and articulate in person. If they represent the next generation of transportation activists and thinkers then we are in good hands.

Forget the war on the car, let's build a multi-modal future
Chris and Melissa Bruntlett get around on bikes, transit, foot and occasionally car. It works.

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