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For the week of April 18 through April 24, 2001

Actions, not talk reduce traffic

Albeit far smaller, Ketchum in the future could be in the same fix as Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and just about every big city in America.

Too many cars, not enough room for them.

But Ketchum has the advantage of looking to other cities for solutions—before it’s too late.

Some might contend that the city has put the cart before the horse by setting an arbitrary goal of limiting 17,600 cars in the city each day.

But this city hall strategy in fact may be the best approach.

With a clear goal in writing, the task now is to find ways of achieving the limit.

Ketchum can’t erect gates at the city limits to deny access to drivers.

The obvious alternative: Providing incentives and disincentives for commuting workers to abandon their cars and thus sharply reduce the daily influx of vehicles into Ketchum.

Thus far, stiffer parking fines and on-street time restrictions have been instituted as disincentives.

Now, along with other public bodies and agencies as well as businesses, the city of Ketchum must move boldly to create incentives to lure drivers out of their cars.

Sweet talk won’t do it. Americans are addicted to cars.

But if drivers can be shown that other transportation to their jobs is just as convenient and reliable, and especially less costly, then they’re apt to act.

Absolutely necessary is some form of free or low-cost public transit capable of moving commuters quickly and on schedules that are frequent during peak travel times.

Car pooling, too, has a place in this scenario. Many workers have the same destination and same starting times. Owners of cars and vans that make room for other riders should be considered for fuel or service subsidies.

And merchants who benefit from having downtown parking spaces freed up by reduced commuter traffic should consider banding together and offering transit and car pool riders script for merchandise discounts.

Not to be overlooked is the value of persistent education and information: For example, simply itemizing in a public ad campaign the average annual costs of driving a car to and from a workplace might well rattle some drivers into alternate transportation. Employers could include this information in employees’ paycheck envelopes.

Limiting or reducing traffic volume on Ketchum streets is a prodigious undertaking, not easily or quickly achieved.

Success rests almost solely on the willingness of the city of Ketchum to back up its high hopes with bold, down-to-earth funding and resources that have real meaning to commuters whom the city wants to encourage to leave their cars at home.




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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.