More than 1 million new residents are projected to move to the greater San Antonio area by 2040. How the region’s transportation system will handle the growth is a crucial question.
In an effort to move the regional transportation conversation forward, the Rivard Report, LOOP, and Glasshouse Policy, a policy crowdsourcing think tank based in Austin, will host a transportation game night and mixer on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 5-9 p.m. at Yanaguana Garden and Brick at Blue Star.
The mixer and game night is the latest installment of Place Changing, the Rivard Report‘s periodic event and article series. Tickets for the mixer and game night cost $10 and can be purchased here. LOOP and Rivard Report members can attend free of charge.
Nicolas Rivard, a designer who heads up Participation Studio and is helping organize the event, said the mixer and game night will focus on the importance of creating regional dialogue about transportation among cities and municipalities.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. at Yanaguana Garden with a happy hour sponsored by the Austin Chamber of Commerce and a networking session with regional policy makers and civic leaders from Austin and San Antonio. Free parking will be available at Hemisfair and City-owned parking lots.
“The goal is to establish a regional policy dialogue that can sometimes be lacking in San Antonio and Austin. (The event) not only introduce(s) folks to policymakers from across the region, but also (helps them understand) how planners and policymakers have to think about transportation and mobility,” Glasshouse Policy Co-Founder and Managing Director Francisco Enriquez told the Rivard Report on Tuesday. “We have to think about both things outside of the vacuum of buses and cars, and how to get people from point A to point B.”
Exactly how to get from point A to point B will be part of the game night. After the networking session, attendees will participate in a Multimodal Street Ride, as they make their way from Yanaguana Garden to Brick – a distance of less than two miles – using an assigned transportation method. Participants might walk, use B-Cycle or Cyclosocial bikes, take an Uber, or ride VIA buses to get to their destination, Rivard said. The goal is to generate discussion about how these transportation options can be improved.
Once at Brick, groups will use an interactive online tool to collaborate on solutions for San Antonio’s future transit issues. Each group will design its ideal street, and a panel of judges will choose a winning team.
“The opportunity that we try to present with this game night is to get people thinking about transportation and mobility as larger than just cars, buses, and streets, but also to think about pedestrian and bike infrastructure, density, and land use development,” Enriquez said. “This also involves sprawl, patterns that define a city, and even beautification.”
Glasshouse Policy takes citizen input and works with policymakers to translate it into meaningful legislation at the state and local level, Enriquez said. He hopes this event will provide feedback and ideas he can then use to help inform policymakers about how people view transportation and mobility.
After Austin voters defeated a referendum on light rail in 2014, Glasshouse Policy began hosting events designed to get people talking about transportation solutions.
“It was a huge margin of defeat, so we sat down with the City and private stakeholders to design a program, MobilityATX, to engage people on issues related … (to) mobility,” Enriquez said. “We began the initiative in 2015 and got over 1,000 people participating in online forums and events. We also held a second one in Houston with a (similar) template, which wrapped up in September 2016.”
Events like these are about engaging the general public, sharing ideas about how things can improve, and educating citizens on public issues, he said. More importantly, Enriquez added, keeping discussions about growth in the forefront is smart and necessary for cities to remain sustainable.
“Cities are not necessarily competing against each other but competing regionally as metroplexes,” Rivard said. “(In) the Austin-San Antonio corridor, there are no more areas where you are (just out) in the country. Now it’s just a continuous strip of development, and that will become more and more the case.”