Urban Transportation Change Maker

Re-posted from The Dirt

Rina Cutler: Urban Transportation Change Maker

When I retire I will write a book called, ‘you can’t make this sh*t up,” said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities, Philadelphia, at a National Complete Streets Coalition dinner in Washington, D.C. In a review of her experience serving seven mayors and governors, Cutler revealed the sometimes painful truths about pushing for positive change in urban transportation.

“Politicians respond to noise and money,” said Cutler. Advocacy organizations like the National Complete Streets Coalition, Smart Growth America, and ASLA, have made lots of noise about the value of complete streets, streets that safely serve all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, and car riders). As a result, on the 10th anniversary of the National Complete Streets Coalition, Roger Millar at Smart Growth America said 600 complete street policies have been adopted across the country.

The noise influenced transportation policy makers because it was the right noise. Cutler said city government traffic planners and engineers largely bought on to the complete streets approach because they saw it as a way to improve pedestrian safety. As she articulated, “in a city, everyone is a pedestrian.” The complete streets movement got a further boost when the “population of bicyclists increased,” and their safety on streets became a pressing issue.

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