I recently mapped out the power struggles of achieving substantial mode shift in Massachusetts. When trying to change or enhance a specific policy, its easy to get wrapped up on a few known people or groups who oppose it. With most policies though there are few who would outright oppose it, and often a complex web of power with issues that have little to do with the policy itself.
With mode shift there are a number of individuals and groups who may choose one side or the other. The largest realization here was that there are a substantial amount of small, local players. Because mode shift involves rethinking the existing space we use for automobiles and better funding for transit, the some groups will have a larger stake in one or the other.
The most interesting strategy came out of this exercise that is a truism for all policy: making it relevant to each potential supporter and non-supporter. Groups aligned with the issue–like public health groups–may not participate because transportation isn’t part of their agenda. Other groups and individuals may initially object to individual mode shift projects but could be persuaded to be supporters if they could see how it would help them.
With mode shift, it is important to realize that Massachusetts isn’t going to become Copenhagen. Rather the goal is to develop an incentive structure that promotes choice, ultimately removing a percentage of automobile trips. This means less traffic congestion. And that can appeal to nearly everyone. As the classic Onion article headline reads: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others