Guest commentary: It’s time to democratize transportation | Opinion

It seems simple. It’s how you get from A to B. You walk to your car, drive, and park. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But streets — they’re really so much more than that. They’re the first thing we see when we leave our homes every day. They’re the veins and arteries that connect and help to define our neighborhoods. They’re the largest, most visible shared public asset in our community.

Champaign, Urbana, and Peoria have redefined the purpose of a street. It’s not just about getting cars from A to B as fast as possible. It’s about people. It’s about safety. It’s about a vibrant community.

When I drive my car to the hardware store, I’m surrounded by thousands of pounds of glass and metal. I’ve insulated myself from my surroundings. I can get where I’m going quickly, but I don’t interact with my surroundings along the way.

When I ride the bus to the grocery store, I say ‘hi’ to the driver. I overhear her welcome other people by name and ask about their grandkids. I’m in a community.

When I go downtown on my bike, I say ‘hi’ to the guy who stops next to me at the stop sign. I still get there quickly — almost as fast as if I’d driven — and I don’t have to worry about parking.

When I walk to work, I smell the flowers along the way. I wave to my neighbor as she puts out a new ear of corn for the squirrels. I dodge kids whipping by on their tricycles on their way to the park. I say ‘hi’ to the postal worker.

More than 10,000 people in Bloomington-Normal don’t use a private vehicle as their primary mode of transportation to work, and 12 percent of adults here don’t even have access to a car.

We have lots of low-wage workers in our community who can’t afford a car no matter how much they want one. Many can’t live near work either because it’s too expensive, or because we’ve spent the…

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