Friday, November 4, 2011

Rail-Volution, 2011

Image A provided by Alyson Fletcher.
Two weeks ago, Alyson Fletcher (MRP '12) attended Rail-Volution’s national conference in Washington, DC.  She attended the event two years ago when it was held in Boston.  Alyson said, "I was thrilled to have the chance to return to Rail-Volution because, unlike many conferences, it has an excellent sense of community and attracts a wide variety of disciplines."  The conference hosts annual meetings with leaders from APA, AIA, and ASLA to talk about how they can bridge their silos to create more livable communities through transit.  

Going along with the revolutionary title of the conference, every session has a strong emphasis on how to create momentum for action in the advancement of more equitable community goals.  Panels discuss tactics on how to make data more accessible to the public, how to foster regional support on challenging issues, and how to proactively tackle equity issues in the event of large investments like transit lines.

Image B provided by Alyson Fletcher.
Alyson encourages other students to take advantage of this conference’s scholarship opportunity. Not only do scholarship recipients get generous coverage for admission and travel expenses, but they also get to stay with a host who is highly engaged in the host city community. The conference also does a great job in welcoming participants to the conference by connecting recipients with a mentor who meets with them periodically throughout the conference to discuss topics learned and to introduce them to people they know.  Rail-Volution’s 2012 conference will take place in Los Angeles and scholarship applications are typically in the summer.

Image A: Touring transit-oriented developments and commuter trails in Arlington, VA with city council members and transportation planners using the DC bike-share. DC's bike-sharing program has not only been one of the most successful bike-sharing programs in the world, but it is also providing opportunities to bridge gaps in transit lines as well as to provide connections for legs to and from transit.

Image B: Matt Steenhoek, urban design and transportation planner for PN Hoffman & Associates, explains transit plans to support the Southwest DC waterfront redevelopment as part of an extensive multi-modal tour cutting across the city looking at growth and development as a result of the extension of the green line.

(A version of this article was also posted in the Cornell Planner in October, 2011)