Event Recap: Transportation Camp 2023
Every January, transportation professionals from around the world converge in Washington, D.C., for the esteemed Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting.
But did you know that the day before the annual meeting begins, movers and shakers in the transportation sphere are already gathering to kick off the week at Transportation for America’s annual Transportation Camp DC?
Transportation Camp is a day-long “unconference” that occurs the Saturday before the TRB Annual Meeting. Unique in format and reach, Transportation Camp brings out transportation professionals, transportation advocates and policymakers, and community members who are simply passionate about transportation issues in their towns and cities.
While the TRB Annual Meeting showcases the exciting academic research of professionals and students from around the globe, the organic nature of Transportation Camp and the conglomeration of ideas and platforms flowing from this eclectic group teases out the best sessions—those that are envisioned and planned that morning in a flurry of post-it notes and are aimed at addressing actual issues in a collaborative environment.
Representatives from WGI’s own Mobility and Urban & Community Planning departments were thrilled to sponsor and attend Transportation Camp DC this year.
After a full day of networking with transportation thought leaders, attending insightful and relevant sessions, and soliciting input on our APA Complete Streets resources update from the individuals who are in the trenches, some themes emerged that threaded nearly every conversation: transportation equity, smarter land use planning, and education and outreach to the public.
These themes found their way into the TRB Annual Meeting as well and are clearly at the forefront of the industry as we enter 2023:
It’s no secret that many of our transportation systems were designed and built to serve a limited group of people using limited modes and often at the expense of underserved and minority communities. Today, transportation policies and plans must prioritize fair and equitable access to services and mode choices, and our designs must reflect the needs of the most vulnerable users, including the aging population and the disabled. It was clear through each and every session that equity should be the lens through which all our decisions are made.
- Land Use Planning
One of the major industry trends on full display at Transportation Camp was the paradigm shift from transportation as moving cars, to transportation as moving people and goods. Prioritizing cycling, walking, and transit, alongside new modes such as e-scooters at the same level as private vehicles, requires land use that makes them convenient and attractive for users.
We heard again and again that transportation planners want more dialogue and collaboration with land use planners, and spoke to land use planners who attended to better understand how transportation affects their work. Moving forward, successful planning will hinge on transportation systems that beget sustainable, livable communities and vice versa. At WGI, we understand how beneficial this relationship can be, and our Urban & Community Planning and Mobility teams work alongside each other in the same division to maximize collaboration.
- Education & Outreach
Transportation issues elicit an emotional response—it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about how to share and manage the curb, how to make public transit more desirable (and reduce dependency on single-occupant vehicles), or how to increase safety for all users on congested, poorly-designed “stroads”. The public cares deeply about these issues because they are woven into the very fabric of our society.
We, as transportation professionals, can do research, present data-driven solutions to problems, and enact policies that support our values as an industry. However, if we cannot educate and convince the public that our solutions and policies are good for them, our efforts will fall flat. Not only that, but we need to make sure that we’re listening to the people our transportation systems are serving.
Community outreach must occur early and often so that our solutions truly meet the need to make sure that we’re listening to the people our transportation systems are serving. Community outreach must occur early and often so that our solutions truly meet the needs of communities.
KEEP THE DISCUSSION GOING
Did you attend Transportation Camp DC? Whether or not you attended, WGI would like to hear from you! Reach out to our experts and let’s keep the discussion going on ways we can improve transportation in our communities together.