One of the most critical issues facing the transportation industry is how to design and implement transportation networks in rural communities. As Gary Toth, Senior Transportation Director at PPS and Hannah Twaddell of the Renaissance Planning Group explore in a blog post for PBS’ Blueprint America series, defining rural life (as well as livability itself) is not as easy as it seems:
“What is rural livability? Unlike urban or suburban living, each of which give rise to instant and consistent images within us, rural life is hard to pigeonhole into one set typology.
“Is rural life typified by a family farm in Nebraska, Iowa or Mississippi? Is it living on an unpaved road in an isolated part of northern Vermont? Is it living in a small village on the mid-coast of Maine, the bayous of Louisiana, the lakes region of Minnesota or the foothills of the Sierras? Is it living in one of the 19 Native American Pueblos of New Mexico? Or is shopping, visiting or even living in one of the many great small cities that support rural living, such as Santa Fe, Charlottesville, or Portland, Maine?
So, as Toth and Twaddell point out, “Is it any wonder that transportation experts are struggling to decide how we will support rural livability? If you can’t define it, how can we support it?”