Mobility is defined as the ability to move easily. The phrase “joint mobility” adds another dimension, indicating more than one segment is involved in an orderly and efficient process. For instance, moving from point A to point B, using several modes of transportation, can be accomplished in a variety of ways depending on distance, obstacles and time. How much effort is required to do this can be a complex combination of factors, sometimes requiring significant planning.
For example, let’s say we are going to take a trip from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. There are quite a few options available such as: modes of transportation, speed of travel, physical obstacles, schedules, weather, etc. Some issues are related to personal preference while others present equal challenges for everyone making the trip.
Fremont has experimented with a concerted effort to examine and solve the dilemma of mobility (travel) within its city limits. Defining the problem has extended to modes of transportation as well as internal and external factors. Excessive pressure to build additional living spaces, expanding the population, and efficient traffic control within city boundaries is an important consideration, but a significant part of the problem is shared by neighboring communities. Major regional and state forces are mandating action without regard to local considerations. Some solutions can be achieved through local action while others require coordination and acquiescence of neighbors.
As Fremont ponders the conversion of its Mobility Task Force and Bicycle and Pedestrian Technical Advisory Committee to a 9-member Mobility Commission, some consideration of a joint commission, or at least coordination, with members of neighboring cities may be in order. After all, traffic and movement within Fremont doesn’t start and end at its borders. There is no reason that synchronization of traffic signals, bicycle, pedestrian protection and other factors should be limited to political boundaries.
Why not organize a Mobility Commission that is tasked with quarterly or semi-annual meetings with like commissions or task forces of Newark and Union City. The staff report addressing this issue for the June 4, 2019 city council meeting suggests consideration of a “diverse Commission with geographic, gender, age and ethnic representation.” Commissioners are proposed by specific interests: traffic (signals and smart parking), school (access and walking), bicycling (shared bikes/scooters – remember the defunct Lime experiment?), transit (paratransit and on-demand shuttles). What about another category for community members that feel the results of the problem but do not have a particular mindset in one of those areas? The view of “at-large,” residents or businesses would be of value when considering the practical aspects of special interest proposals.
Traffic flows and mobility problems not only cross adjacent city boundaries, but the entire southeast Bay Area including Milpitas, Hayward, San Leandro and unincorporated areas too. Inclusion of these areas on a regular basis (annual?) would enhance efforts to solve salient issues. Not only will this coordinate solutions but it will consolidate action plans and strengthen lobbying for regional and state assistance as well. Among suggestions to “approach the structure and scope of a Mobility Commission” is participation in an annual work session with the City Council and “the annual Mobility Summit.” Exactly what is this Mobility Summit? Is it with south Bay Area communities, regional, national, international? Searching on the internet for such a meeting reveals many summits. Which is it? Who goes? What does it cost? What are the expectations and deliverables of attendance at such meetings?
Although it is great importance to address the traffic and mobility problems that plague our communities, it’s time to be smart about this by consolidating resources and expanding the pool of ideas. All of us are affected by mobility concerns; a Mobility Commission is a step in the right direction.