This is a super sloppy, mostly unedited transcript of the live podcast recording we did for the UIC SISE Best Nerds Podcast No. 2. It comes from the raw audio recording, so the times do not necessarily correspond to the actual times in the recording itself, but it’s the best we can do with the limited resources we have (one person with a half-decent mic and one person doing 100% of the editing on a volunteer basis)!
Nathaniel Zorach 0:06
Hey, I want to welcome everybody to the second second podcast of the University of Illinois Chicago, Summer Institute in sustainability and energy. And thank you to all of our coconspirators, and friends at UNC and the Alvin H. Brown family. So today we have a Monroe, and Kelsey Ansel and Nikki will be here in a moment, we’re going to be talking about racial identity in transportation. So I want to start with a little bit of an introduction, first of all, to tell you about what sys is, you don’t know, For the uninitiated. The Summer Institute on sustainability and energy is an annual program hosted at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is sort of a crash course that all things related to the Greeks pursue sustainability and the energy systems of tomorrow, everything ranging from the letters after writing to you know, I was a nuclear reactor work. And so it’s sort of a great intro to to all these things for anybody who’s interested in any part of it, and engineering and sort of social implications of all this stuff, for putting together a more sustainable tomorrow. So with me talking about innovation, and equity and transportation sort of an exciting time right now, because we have a new presidential administration that has made infrastructure investment, the priority after several years of administration that did not have such a high priority for that, as well as some other things going on in the previous administration, that made it sort of hard to advance a lot of the infrastructure of deck executives that some people wanted to advance. So they So basically, the idea is transportation is a sort of vital part of American infrastructure. And we know that our infrastructure is in really bad shape. On our last episode, we talked about the tower grid. And now the power grid isn’t only about state by way of the blackouts in Texas for the winter storms, transportation specifically, we’ll get into that in a minute. But yeah, we can go around and have everyone introduce themselves briefly and sort of say what they’re interested in this specific thing. I’m Matt, I live in Detroit. And I become really passionate about this issue. Since living here. Because of the struggles we’ve had in developing and regional transportation infrastructure, we have a state that is like overwhelmingly dominated by what we call SMBs, or single occupant vehicles, aka cars. So I’m really interested in figuring out how we can advance equitable access to education within Detroit and beyond. Onto onto Kelsey, go ahead. Hi,
Kelsey Z. 2:43
I’m Kelsey Zlevor. Good to be here with all of you. And welcome, everybody who’s just joining us for the first time, I’m actually in Eugene, Oregon currently is where I live at work. I’m also in planning and kind of Parks and Recreation master planning. However, I do a lot of kind of volunteer work around housing policy, affordable housing advocacy policy. And so while I am certainly not a transportation expert, or I wouldn’t say I am, you know, that would be like my strength in planning, I think, obviously, housing and transit are irrevocably intertwined. And so as we think about the future of housing and what it means to increase density, what it means to, again, provide housing near services, a huge piece of that is transit that at a certain point, you can live in the best place, but if it doesn’t enable you to get anywhere, and your quality of life is pretty impacted, and especially Yeah, if you’re relying on single occupancy vehicles or your car, and there’s an access to public transit, that has huge environmental and public health effects. So from my standpoint, I’m really interested to learn more about this to kind of better integrate kind of how I think about housing, transit. So I will pass it off to you.
Kunal S. 3:52
Thanks, guys, I’m going on. And I have almost no expertise on this subject, but a lot of a lot of interest. So I grew up in India, and I spent a lot of my time in places that CAN bus bus system was pretty solid, was really, you know, high quality, very available, as always the event system. Now when I moved to the US, I guess I spent four years in college where I didn’t have to do very go very far beyond the on campus. But the year after I graduated, I was pretty far from home. And I spent a lot of time commuting and I thought this would be a better way than jr three different transit modes and not having a single way to link them together. And so on bank tables out of whack, you miss, you know, one thing is late by two minutes and invest the next bus and now you’re waiting 45 minutes. And so to think there’s going to be a better way, just from my own perspective. And then I moved to Austin a couple of years ago where you know, by I guess, by American city standards, public transit is decent, but between COVID and the impact it’s had on a lot of people’s ability to commute by bus and train just because been trying to social distance, you know, that’s been that’s been on my mind. Since the weather started getting better. I’ve been kind of biked to work, which is a single occupancy vehicle, but much smaller and much more likely to be hit by a truck. So I guess access to bike lanes has been on my mind a little bit. And I yeah, there’s sort of, you know, when I, when I moved here, I couldn’t get a license because couldn’t get insurance if I place a lot of panic on having car insurance. And that seems to be a state policy. And so there’s a whole lot of different districts that we are very dependent on cars, kind of thoughts that have come together in the last few months and rekindled or do not want to say the Kindle, really, it’s like driven more interest in the topic for me. So then on my mind, off and on, and on and off of late. Yeah.
Ian M. 5:43
I’m probably the resident car nerd out of everyone here… we’re big into transportation and cars and automotive stuff in general. I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which has a really good public transit system. And I had been on this planet for almost 40 years now. And when Pittsburgh is the first place where I actually ever use public transit, so coming here and using it for the first time, it opened my eyes to a lot of issues that I did not know about, and I become more and more in transplant public transportation since then, when my wife and I bought this house where the key is things we looked for was, how close is it to a public transit line. So for me public transit, it’s one of those I mean, we have a car, but you know, we’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. And we’re trying to minimize car usage with that. So you know, while we do have a car, we try to utilize public transportation as much as possible, but COVID, everything else kind of, you know, work on that. But we take in public transportation battery really hard. And it’s one of the things we’ve tried to look for, like, politicians, everyone else we want to talk to, it’s like, what is your public tramp stamp? So it’s definitely something that opened my eyes to a lot of things around me and I, this is a bigger issue than a why I think people realize what it actually is. So before I go off to off the rails, I’ll pass it back to Matt.
Nathaniel Zorach 7:03
Thank you. No, I like I appreciated that, that transit really fun, they’re going off the rails, and also referring to, you know, firing on all these things, or, you know, we live in Detroit, everything has to be automotive related. But the interesting thing there about the sort of protection and transportation space, because it’s impossible to get here there by train. But what you can do is look at the connections between the automotive industry here, the big two and a half, as I call them. So Ford and General Motors, and on rare occasion, Chrysler, aka Colossus, and those sort of self driving car autonomous vehicle technology. A lot of this actually originated in Pittsburgh, which is, which is kind of a thing that it’ll talk about when everybody’s all about how cruise automation is in San Francisco. And there’s automation was actually sort of taken from its original iteration, and then basically built up not from scratch, but from very small things were very big thing by General Motors, our own homegrown little small mom and pop shop here. And so, you know, that’s one of those interesting things. The reason why I wanted to sort of mention that was because they were talking about the innovation part of this, a lot of it, there’s this really sort of deep kind of hype around this question of the self driving robot cars of tomorrow. Like we were promised, we were promised flying cars in the in the film Back to the Future. And obviously, that hasn’t come to pass was what happens to recipes. JOHN deloreans company, DeLorean Of course work for General Motors. I remember years and years, and this company is too conservative for me, like I, I’m a young go getter who likes to wear double breasted Italian suits, and working for a company where you’d actually get sent home for, for wearing wearing a brown suit, instead of a blue or black suit, allegedly, according to his autobiography. So I mean, there’s this whole thing about like, how he’s gonna be, nobody’s ever gonna have self driving cars and 15 or whatever. But what was really interesting is when I moved to Detroit, a lot of the conversation was about how autonomous vehicles are gonna be on the roads in a couple years and like, better get ready is crazy things robots are going to transport us to the moon or whatever. And, and that clearly hasn’t happened. However, we learned along the way as we sort of defined what the future looks like, and what it what it probably will look like. And you know, they always talk about this sort of case future for that airport is connected, autonomous, shared and electric. So we’ve hit a couple of those General Motors committed to converting in January I guess they announced their entire plan to being electric. In the next like, a decade ish or something. electric cars either carbon neutral by bad believe 2030. All that sounds. That sounds right. Hopefully that leads to it. Yeah. And so you can look at that and say Well, we’re just caving to the radical liberal agenda. Or you can say, Wow, that’s a really impressive transformation of the economy, if they think that that’s where the challenge is going. If you look at if you compare, like, you know, what I put on my MBA hat, I compare federal motors to Tesla, General Motors is treating it like a sort of fractional earnings multiple of Tesla is like a bazillion dollars or whatever. So everybody’s, like, very excited about what they’re doing. People are not as exciting but excited about GM. We have a new guests who will bring on But yeah,
Kelsey Z. 10:33
One thing do I’ve been thinking about with the AV concept is that and I think Nat brings up a good and interesting point is like, there was this kind of big hype rhetoric that I remember as well, just like conferences and things that I attempted in my professional space back in, you know, 2017, that, you know, this is like a printer with AV and all of the stuff. And yeah, that hasn’t come from the past, and maybe at the speed that we were anticipating or any of that. But I do find it really fascinating that it kind of though, has become a thing where, you know, like the capacities out there, like the the technologies out there to make it possible. And I’ve been questioning and I don’t have an answer for this. But I’ve been questioning like, yeah, are there still places and cities that are going to be caught politically, completely unaware by the deployment of this new technology, when that comes out, is thinking about like city planning and policy, in the ways that we are, you know, setting ourselves up now To be or not be AV compatible in the future? And kind of what is that? academic, political? Again, the landscape? And I don’t have an answer for that. But that’s been something I’ve been kind of concerned about is that I think there’s some places are going to be ready, and then have thought about it. And there are some places that are not thinking about it at all, and how is that going to kind of change our public landscape? I mean, that was an interesting guy. No,
Ian M. 11:53
I didn’t think about that before, you know, because I and first impressions, I think, would be the smaller, more rural areas where, you know, it’s more sprawl than anything that there could be, I think, more caught out by because they’re, I mean, they’re thinking 234 years ahead with tech by traditional technology. And I think this is where they’re going to probably think they’re going to say, well, we’re going to rely on tech to come up with the solutions to work with us to provide the answers. And that’s not our problem. But it’s gonna be interesting to see, to say the least, because there’s very, very smart individuals and cities across the country that are working on this. But it’ll be interesting to see these small rural areas come like they’re going up the faces of one point or another, it’s going to be interesting to see how they handle it.
Nathaniel Zorach 12:41
I think that um, one of the most natural things I’ve looked at is this question of what are the sort of things that have to get modernized in order to modernize other things, and this is kind of why I wanted to bring Mickey on, because Mickey, I know each other from the welcome Mickey, by the way, Mickey was out enjoying the wonderful weather
Mikki T. 13:01
part and with Mickey Taylor-Hendrix, I went through the system here, which is called our a plus chain system. So we operate the bus system in the city and into the internet. I am on service planning team. But most of my work is specifically around service planning, making sure the routes and the transit network meet the needs of riders. And as travel changes, travel demand, where people live in work, we just want to make sure the routes and the service we provide matches that I also lead most of the community engagement for the transit system. So I do a variety of engagement from making sure our riders are involved in our service planning to working with other city departments on plans around the city, connecting with employers, making sure we have the right stakeholders in the right relationships with our stakeholders. It’s nice to be here. And we are happy to have you. So I
Nathaniel Zorach 13:57
kind of the reason why I side invited cam already who’s from Cincinnati, and I’ve met cam is one of those things where you meet somebody at a conference and you can’t remember whether you met them because they were a panelist or a speaker or whether you met them like at the bar or something. I think that’s always a good sign. Because it’s like, I remember this person that really good stuff to say. And I was like, I need to talk with this person. And cam has been involved in a lot of advocacy in Cincinnati. Cincinnati has a lot in common with Detroit, where it’s like this sort of rust belt city if you want to use that term. Some people don’t like that term, Mickey’s from St. Louis, which
Unknown Speaker 14:33
has that term applied to it.
Nathaniel Zorach 14:36
But But Kevin, I connected there because he has some connections with he knows some people I know from Detroit. And so we’ve been talking about proposal to invest in infrastructure in Detroit, and we’ve been leading advocacy efforts in Cincinnati around the same thing. For the uninitiated, pretty much every transit system is funded completely differently. Federal and State grants maybe. And then you also have local operating revenue that comes in from from the farebox, what they call the Fairbanks recovery ratio. And so the biggest thing is that like a lot of these local systems, they’ll get funding from taxes and sometimes some tax villages. What have you. In Detroit’s case, we have deedat, which is the city Treasury Department. We have smart just Southeast Michigan, area.
Unknown Speaker 15:24
suburban, oh, suburban,
Nathaniel Zorach 15:28
area, smart, smart, long name, whatever it is, and so smart, one of the things that people say, Well, why do I have to pay a summer fare to go on a Suburban Bus, you can actually take the different buses to the city limits, and then you have to go somewhere else, or you have to, you know, get on, you know, get on a separate bus, need to pay a fare for it just recently introduced the darts, fare card. And so the idea is like, now, you know, you can, you know, the idea is to have a unified fare card system. But the reason just, I’ll eventually shut up about this, just want to, you know, drive home this point that when we’re talking about innovation, we can talk about electric buses, we can talk about self driving cars, or whatever. But at the core, a lot of these issues are very local. And in Detroit, Metro Detroit, we had this gentleman who ran the inner race suburb of counties, California, is actually the suburban mobility authority for regional transportation. And the two people in Michigan in this room did not know that are bad. So in Metro Detroit is like very much this thing of the county executive of Oakland County, which is worse Detroit, on the north side, in the city of Detroit, to the inner suburbs up to the sort of world post suburban area. And he’s basically like, I don’t like Detroit, so I’m not going to find transit there. And when I was covering this as a journalist, to go to the public meetings, and you have all these people in public meetings and say, we don’t want our tax dollars to fund buses for those people, of course, this issue that like Detroit provides a lot of labor to the suburbs. But Detroiters cannot get to the suburbs, and it’s this huge issue. So long story short, we now have a new executive in Oakland County, there’s a lot of hope for this new investment. And a renewed interest in investing in transportation infrastructure that can cross these cross these borders and boundaries, like literally metaphoric or whatever. Last thing I’ll say about that, is that going back to the beginning of the discussion, where we’re talking about a lot of this optimism around infrastructure investment, we’re doing ministration devising infrastructure plan that is proposed to invest a bazillion dollars in various kinds of infrastructure, not just 6%. And roads and bridges has often been limited by certain certain people. But but also things like public transit and power grids, which are a lot of times each other, surprisingly, they can tell you about what your What are you excited about is going on in the city and the city these days in your your line of work. Everything. So
Mikki T. 18:01
I’ve been here for four years, I’ve been working with transition the whole time, I’ve been here relocated from New Orleans, Louisiana, so was a bit taken back by the relationship between the city of Detroit and the suburbs took a while to kind of understand it. And if you know, the history, I understand the political dynamics a little better. So I’m excited to see people coming to Detroit. Even today, like I could tell a lot of the people enjoying downtown Detroit don’t live near me. And so I think, well, the conversation is still around. Oh, parking so hard enough. And so while those conversations keep happening, I think people are more excited about new mobility services. And for me, I think that will naturally bring people hopefully, to understanding, you don’t need to go everywhere. You don’t need your car. If you’re afraid to park and don’t want to pay too much to park, you don’t need your car to go around the corner to go to a coffee shop. But
Nathaniel Zorach 18:58
can I ask isn’t parking a god? You have the right, of course. Right. So this is the challenge that we have. So one of the things is like this, this question of you know, there are a lot of companies that will offer transit passes to their employees, and that’s like this great thing or whatever. But one of the things that we’re kind of behind the times on is this idea of getting rid of parking minimums, which are basically saying like, for every one unit of building, yeah, like whatever. So it’s like, Yeah,
Mikki T. 19:26
I think that’s still definitely happening. But I do think while conversation around mobility either from the trigger, you know, the historical the big the forward the FCA announcements, you know, I think we’re seeing them get more involved in mobility. And so I think with them stepping into that space, we’ll see some level of evolution in transportation here in Detroit in the region. My hope is that as that keeps happening, people like myself to keep knocking on doors like hey, you forgot to invite me I’m here anyway. And people will understand like, okay, yes, you can have over, you can have lift, you can scooters, you can have bikes. But public transit is basic in the foundation of mobility. So even we are on the fact that, Oh, poor people use transit for black people use transit. If you want to get on a bike, and you don’t live by ride share, guess what you can do? Take transit to the bike share, or you know, you can, you can use it to connect to these other modes. And so that’s what I’m excited about. The conversation is changing, getting away from the second unit 16 and E two cars, and people are going back into the city and realizing No, I don’t want to pay $150 on top of my rent, just to park your car. So
Nathaniel Zorach 20:40
for more than that, right? Can you can you give some perspective, you’ve spent some time in New Orleans and also St. Louis, we get some perspective of one of these losers gonna be about living in St. Louis. He had a reasonably modern system, like it was like, you know, bosses were fairly new, but they also had this light rail system. That was sort of like there’s a lot large portion of that it was funded by the state of Illinois because it connects to an Air Force Base. But I’m like, what are some sort of perspectives you’ve thought of, like, coming from different cities and thinking about, let’s say, St. Louis, New Orleans, Detroit, what are some sort of like, lessons or cultural ideas about how people think about these things and what we can, what we can learn from them. So I didn’t realize how
Mikki T. 21:22
good it was, I used it, I use it to get to middle school, I use it to get to work. When I worked at Target. I used to get to sporting events that were in downtown. And then I went to New Orleans. And of course, I have three cards. And then I got to Detroit. And I’m like, Whoa, St. Louis has a great an actual regional transit system. So yeah, some of the some of the counties in Illinois are now connected St. Louis County, St. Louis city, I’m not involved in politics. But you know, I really don’t know how well, things are. I knew I could get where I need to go. I was blown away when I got to both city hills in Detroit that people want, like and rail in a car way. But you can’t go as fast as you should be going. If you’re in, get out of the street. So I don’t know, I think and then also New Orleans, the one big thing is that we’re really, really similar in the idea, please, if you should have a car, if you don’t have a car you are, there’s a reason why you don’t have a car. And it’s not a choice. So I think what I’ve learned is that Chicago, New York PC, are still the mechanism of mobility. And people will, you know, if you’re trying to get NDC, that’s not those. What are you doing? So
Nathaniel Zorach 22:32
on that? One of the things that is it’s it’s interesting is this idea of, like you mentioned the whole, like, driving the train in the car lane. For anyone who’s wondering, we have this train called the Q line, which goes I language through my three mile loop from downtown Detroit, new center neighborhood. And for my thesis research, I did a lot of looking at this question of public private partnership. And I put that in air quotes, because a lot of times public private partnership means city governments don’t have money. So they’re going to, they’re going to figure out what companies do have money, and then they’re going to give them everything they want. And that’s the cynics Google PDP is the best perspective is that it’s a way that facilitates private sector innovation and the sort of nimble flexibility of private sector capital within the framework that serves all three key lines. And one of the things that was arguably more toward the first, the first one of those, so the queue line has now been operating for the past year in some from, you get some COVID. It’s not operated by T dot. And it’s operated by a private nonprofit, a creative nonprofit operations thing. But it was it was promoted as a like an economic development tool, because it’s like, oh, look, we have this new streetcar. It’s not necessarily promoted as a an actual robust transit system and the differences you see people getting on the Woodward bus, which comes every like 10 to 12 minutes, versus the cue line, which may or may not come every play by 30 minutes, whatever. A lot of times, I’m actually reading it by walking. But this is a really interesting perspective, because it shows that like there’s a fracturing not just with suburban Transit Authority versus the urban Transit Authority. There’s also this private sector thing, where like the Kresge Foundation of Kmart fame, spent 10s of millions of dollars to subsidize the development of this thing was largely promoted by one real estate developer who’s seven, several billion dollar net worth, and has looked at this as a way to promote real estate development, which arguably, it has design any successful. No, it’s not just that’s why the transit system isn’t successful as a real estate development tool, arguably, maybe.
Unknown Speaker 24:48
So I could, I could rant about that for a long time, but I wanted to give Kelsey a chance to ask a question. Yeah, thanks, Mickey. It’s really nice to meet you.
Kelsey Z. 25:00
Thank you for being here. I was saying a little bit earlier, I live out in Oregon. And I’m a Parks and Recreation planner out here. And something that I’ve been thinking a lot about for parks work that I also think applies to transit. And I’m curious if you have any thoughts about what just Yeah, like, out of many things, but coming out of the pandemic, thinking about just like the role of kind of trauma informed design in parks and how we pretty much been under this lockdown condition for a really long time, it’s just made people way more nervous about being in public space, you know, being really close to people, all that kind of like interpersonal relationship components, but we’ve really had to step pretty far back from and I’ve been thinking about that as it pertains to parks, and what does it mean for people to show up into parks, you know, after vaccinations are kind of rolling out and all that? I guess I’m curious, from your perspective, if that’s been a conversation that’s been existing in like the public transit world of like, what is going to look like or what it’s going to mean, for people to get back into transit, especially when we’ve been kind of like living within this culture of fear, that has been justified. But this culture of fear of being in close quarters with other people is inherently dangerous. And I’m wondering if there’s if you just have any thoughts on the future of transit as it pertains to kind of recovering from that mindset?
Mikki T. 26:13
Yeah, that’s part of my job was increasing ridership until the last year. super difficult. And I’m, I’m kind of like, when do I start doing that again? And I know it’s not now. So yes, that is a huge concern. But realistically, as most basic level in transportation, our ridership didn’t decrease as much as many other changes, because we provide service to a lot of Trent, essentially, riders, so people aren’t going to work for these essential jobs. And a lot of them are using public transit to get there. So the immediate response, and and even now, one of the big focuses is how do we restore public transit right now for who is it safe for good operators, for our bus drivers and for the writer. So we’ve done quite a few things around that. It’s been difficult because we’ve had to reduce the capacity on our buses to allow people to go provision. And that’s been really hard because it’s a bicycle with 10 people, or 15, or 20, we’ve increased that country by being vaccinated. equipment, that many buses were passing people, buses that looked relatively empty buses that realistically, were relatively empty, we’re passing people up because of capacity decrease. And so it provided a lot of immediate problems, and immediate challenges where there wasn’t my Oh, shoot, what do we do by fire right now that leads us? And I think right now our focus is still, how do we handle these immediate issues that are already happening? We really haven’t taken a huge step to say, Okay, now what are we doing for future writers? Now? What do we do for people who might return to the office in minutes? Who knows when right because the pandemic is here. I think one of the big things we will need to do is just communicate the data, a lot of the biggest issues people are not getting hold on probably, they’re not protecting COVID on public transit, a lot of the data says, wash your hands. We’ve installed hand sanitizer on all of our buses. where a man we have been getting out, Matt, the amount of masks that God has given to writers honestly should have been a major news story. People were that was a pretty that originally, we were supposed to have something like 100,000 on there. And we have not run out because people are donating them. We you know, the Paris funding is there. So we’ve been able to release my opinion, right? The city with that. And so I think, as we continue to do that, we made it safer for our operators. We have solid driver carriers. They have their mask, of course, even cleaning. So we’ve done all of these things. And I think just making sure people know that and they see. And then the data supported. I think the big thing is just communicating it, and you have an app to pay we did recently reinstate fair, fair was free for a very long time, more like than most other changes, or change systems I’ve talked to. Yes, I think if the data supports, it’s okay to use transit. I think we just need to work on communicating. Because we are doing a lot already. We’ve been doing a lot of testing. Yeah, no, thank you. I and you bring up a great point that I never even thought about. But yeah, even the concept of like
Kelsey Z. 29:20
transit as a key distributor for just getting people masks i think is brilliant. And yeah, something I hadn’t really thought about. So I appreciate you sharing that. That was really one
Nathaniel Zorach 29:31
of the things that that sort of final calcium, but one of the things that I remember from this conference I went to, there’s gentleman from lime, and lime is, of course the scooter company that has one of the major competitors. Here. We have a few different ones. And it’s been interesting to talk to folks in the city about how they manage scooters. So I think a lot of people are like, they knew them as a fun little toy, you can get around like, even your drunk friends can crash into cars. I say this because my car was crashed into another video, because a drunk girl crashed into it. I said, sort of like, people don’t think this is necessarily an illegitimate fool, around. And the city is taking this approach of sort of saying like, Oh, you know, like, just put your scooters in, and we’ll figure it out whatever. Other cities have actually started, like charging fees, or whatever. And so they they’re talking about that now in the city. But I went to this conference a number of years ago, and this gentleman from line was basically like, one of the coolest things about getting people to become scooter riders is because it turns them into advocates for better infrastructure. And the reason is, they got on a scooter. And they’re like, wow, these streets are jank like hobbled or like, like, some bad situation, like, because a scooter does not have shock shocks. It’s that like, doesn’t have suspension. It’s not like a bike or a car or like, your big wheels, and you can hit a bump and go feeling Let’s go. me where I do things. And then they say, what can we do to improve the state of our infrastructure? So Kelsey, take that to the next step with a question.
Kelsey Z. 31:16
Yes, this is one of my favorite questions, whenever we have experts around, that I’m always curious. And maybe from your perspective, I think I’m curious where we were talking, before you joined us about kind of the big national level infrastructure conversations and, you know, finding funding packages and all these all these things started happening, things started happening at this big national level. And I think there are fundamentally a lot of people especially younger people that are you know, interested in these issues and care about them. But there’s sometimes this like local disconnect about, okay, I care about this thing, but what you know, what am I What am I to do about it? And I guess I’m wondering where you sit and even in Detroit, if you know, speaking to people who maybe know about transit, because know that the big kind of core tenants of what we’re trying to do based on Natural News, what do you recommend or what do you advise for people who want to get involved in terms of being more pro transit or transit advocacy kind of at the local level?
Mikki T. 32:14
So honestly, start with your own right. So example I started by just a user by camera 45 three decades so I have a logo and frequent homeless right where I was like, and then I started saying to my friends, hey, look, one of our cars so we did rented a gym camp library for a lot of my friends. And we came down mission which has vibrant and people will just say, oh, first of all you Becca first we have to realize a lot of to your point earlier people here car in the streets and for my heart get out of industry get in my way you don’t belong here. And so the conversation of policy we can’t even get there I think without making sure our residents our stakeholders understand this is not their street. Yes and right belongs in the road do not have to hurt me if I be close to them. So you want to have conversations rather than I’ve ever had our streets here in Detroit I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jefferson Avenue I live on Jefferson and the speed limit is 35 and people complain about the bike lanes and then my traffic I’m like you I guarantee you you’re still going but you still speed with the spot. So I think that’s a big part of the conversation because into my friends who some of them are from Detroit, some of them aren’t. They’re not public transit users. They are not cyclists. They are motorist until they were on a bike and saw a car parked in the bike lane they didn’t care about the second it was them and they had to then figure out a reroute What is it then I was like, that’s it you have to like the the whole scooter thing you have to experience it when you’ve been so programmed. And so in most of your experience has been, you know, I need to I’m going convenience in my recommendation, but I buy to a mission. The bike lanes neat where they they’re faced with the amount of people that are parked in him. I’m calling apartment building. I say this every time I look at my bike on Michigan, but I’m, I’m I have a call and be like, yo, please tell your friends. Like just move over to me.
Nathaniel Zorach 34:21
Just real quick on that note, too. I actually had a conversation with someone from the city about this. And I said, Why don’t you guys enforce ticketing and fight biplane card parking. And the one guy was like we do in this place, but we don’t want other places because the lanes are all worn out. So they just started researching other he saw that they just started to restriping Michigan symbol and just by the old Tiger Stadium site. And they’ve been marking in the bikeways but they’re just now restriping it And that is a fair
Mikki T. 34:55
excuse, because they are that, where if I just moved over here, or if I’m going through this business, I really don’t know that this is a bike lane. So my suggestion would be started off with your local, whoever you is, in your space, if you work at a place that has a huge parking lot, say, Hey, have you ever thought about like people walking into work or giving out transatlantic gifts, get your employer involved and do it as an advocate, right. So say, like, Oh, I actually used to work or you know, I write a lot. And I would love to be able to do that to get here. But here, my, your black club is, I don’t know, that’s an eternity time. But whatever community group you have in your particular city, or your neighborhood, if you have violence, I talk about it. If you don’t have it, let’s talk about it. I think it starts there to just kind of show people who might not be aware, this might not be something familiar with, but you know, me, and I’m familiar with this. So now, like now that you know somebody who uses these things, and would benefit from the infrastructure improvements, now we can have a conversation about it, then I think, reach out, you know, reach out to your local officials. Reach out to your become a stakeholder is what I’m trying to say. So reach out to your transit system and say, Hey, you want to come talk at this black club meeting and talk about what changes ever see him in his neighborhood, reach out to the bike share, hey, you want to come talk to black like me, you want to come talk to my employer, I can connect you with HR person, your church, like whoever it is, becomes a Colgate get your peers to attend their meetings, because you don’t have meetings every month. But we can also come to hear me right? So just kind of build that relationship, and then figure out from that professional level, how can I help you? So what is it that you need to make transit infrastructure better? Because it’s not always the same thing? I know one thing we deal with a lot, a lot of Detroit is already built. And we just struggle with this isn’t trying to find the infrastructure. So if you’re not if you don’t have the money right then and there to fix it, and it’s not on your immediate to do list, what can we do in the interim? Of course, manufacturing is good to be here. So you know, you’re working on supplier that’s really a new location and a new industrial part. I’m gonna talk returns before that initial part goes up, because please don’t call me after and ask me to solve your problems. Now. It’s not easy, right? So not no one worked with you. It sounds as though you were speaking from direct experience. And I think Yeah, but my overall long story long become a stakeholder.
Kelsey Z. 37:16
No, I think that’s excellent advice. And I super appreciate that. And your your point about becoming a bike commute, I used to mean normal times would bike commute to work. And that was usually when I would start to realize, oh, when I’m in a car, I should not act this way, or I should be parked in this way. And that kind of seeing that until I became the bike commuter. I really resonated with that. So I appreciate you sharing. And I know in terms of like questions, I think we have kunaal with a specific bi question something fast enough. Yeah,
Kunal S. 37:43
I mean, I want to talk to us by by echoing that and guessing, saying thanks so much for being here with us. And it’s really nice to meet you. And very nice to hear from you about just about transit as a whole. biking, something that’s been on my mind a little bit, the weather’s been nicer I’ve been going back to work and realized that over the last year, you know, as Donna says, outdoors has been in biking for recreation has really picked up quite a bit bikes have been sold out sold out, bike equipment has been sold out. So we’ve got like Capital One piece, which is a lot of people have right now. On the other hand, a lot of employers are going to, you know, build infrastructure and kind of wish to have some good bike racks indoors at work so that people can store their bikes. But there’s kind of this, this middle piece between having a bike at home and having a place to sort of work, which is the infrastructure on the road. And even for my commute, which is either neighborhood streets or a street with bike lanes most of the way, you know that bike lane is full of broken glass and gravel. And even when it is well demarcated, like people, people drive however people drive, you know, like, two wheels in the bike lane with four wheels in the bike lane. What do we have on the curb right now? So I guess my, one of my questions here is, do you expect to see following this boom, and people getting bikes and getting outdoors, and improvement in infrastructure on the roads? You know, so what can we do to push that? versus, you know, people saying, you know what, I’m just going to bike to work, because it seems like a good idea and getting ahead of it, you know, do you expect that people on the roads will follow the infrastructure, the infrastructure will follow the people. And what’s like, in your mind, the quickest, easiest solution to get to make biking safer and make it more palatable to people, especially when you’re outside city calls in a lot of city causes a lot of good bike infrastructure and just a little bit north of that where there are big roads and small budgets. And I’m not unique in that regard, like a lot of people live far away from down. So what do you expect will be there? what’s the what’s the chicken in the egg here? And how do we, how do we push broadly for improved bike instruct infrastructure alongside improved transit, in addition to things you’ve always had been very helpful already. And I’m
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