Three Ways We’ll Curb Traffic—Right Away

Derek Story 1282874 Unsplash

Traffic in San Diego is no joke. According to a 2016 article, “residents in the southeast corner of San Diego County have some of the longest and earliest morning commutes.” In District 7, everyone is familiar with the backlog around Fashion Valley Mall and the stadium. And no one would debate that going north in the morning—or south in the evening—is incredibly taxing.

Not to mention that all those cars on the road cause pollution & potholes, both of which degrade the quality of our city.

So what’s the solution? We can and should continue to build large scale improvements to our roadways & public transit. But that takes time and money, and that construction causes more traffic while it’s happening.

So how do we curb traffic in the interim? Let’s start with these three steps.

  1. Cut the commute for many San Diego government workers
  2. Use readily-available data to combat traffic collisions & make fast, meaningful improvements
  3. Get private employers on board with telecommuting

Cut the Commute for Many San Diego Government Workers

As of July 2018, the City of San Diego employed approximately 11,000 full time equivalent employees. (That’s about 8 city workers per 1,000 residents.) A lot of those folks can’t telecommute – like firefighters and other first responders.

But many can. If we transitioned even 1/3 of the city’s employees to remote-only or remote-first jobs, that’s thousands of cars off the road each day. Meaning those folks who have to commute in will have an easier drive. It also means our roads will last longer and our air will receive less pollution.

And all those empty office spaces we’ll create? Let’s turn them into affordable housing, or even a hub for veterans to charge their phones and find other services.  

Use Existing Data to Combat Traffic Collisions & Make Other Improvements

The City of San Diego has a massive trove of open data available to anyone who wants to take a look. But it’s not being utilized.

In just under an hour, an experienced data scientist can code this information to make it visually useful to everyone in the city. Take this example of a map of the pothole fill requests and responses in the city.

Pothole Report Map[Thanks, Dr. Catherine Hicks (@grimalkina) for this map!]

Think of what we could do with maps that show us where the most collisions happen at specific times of day or during which weather. Using this information, we can implement small but meaningful infrastructure changes in San Diego’s most problematic traffic areas. Each time we do, we’ll be making a real difference on everyone’s commute.

Get Private Employers on Board with Telecommuting

After we prove that remote-first and remote-only jobs are good for the community, we’ll take that data to the largest employers in the city and work with them to implement remote-work opportunities for their employees. That implementation will include training and transition support, so that the employees & the employers don’t experience any productivity lag when making the switch. We can provide other incentives, too, like helping those employers sublet it otherwise dispose of their now-unused office space.

It’s a win-win-win-win.

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Together, we can make San Diego work for the cannabis employee, for the artisan entrepreneur, for the retired high-school teacher, for the bright-eyed second-grader, for everyone.