Flying into the future

People of a certain age might remember the predictions of the future when we would all get around in flying cars.

Today’s predictions: Not so much.

The future now looks like one in which people depend less on the individual passenger cars and more on means of innovative public transportation, some of which haven’t even been invented.

Old forms, like pedestrian routes, bike lanes and buses will combine with new ones, such as high-speed transit, micro-transit and active transportation in a strategy to conserve energy, allow for green space, and save the planet.

What will the models of transportation look like in 25 years in Tulare County? How will people get around, and will they do it without cars?

Those are some of the questions that will be posed in the May edition of “Tulare County Voices at 210” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14 at 210 W. Center Ave., Visalia. It will be livestreamed on Facebook and recorded to YouTube.

Titled “Future of Transportation: Moving Us Out of Our Cars,” this lively panel discussion will examine the means of alternative transportation that are intended to make us all less dependent on single-vehicle transportation.

In car-dependent California, that might seem to be a pipe dream, but already there are means that will provide alternatives: public transportation routes, more attention to bicycle and pedestrian paths, and urban planning that makes it easier to walk and to use public transit.
State transportation master plans are being developed that will emphasize transportation that is less reliant on fossil fuels. And, of course, there is high-speed rail.

The transportation visionaries are using terms such as “active transportation” and “micro transit” to describe the future. Some of them are already taking place. Helping sort this out for the forum on May 14 will be a panel of transportation specialists in the Valley:

● Ted Smalley, Tulare County Association of Governments [TCAG], Executive director
● Mark Wall, Chair TCAG Active Transportation Advisory Committee
● Diego Corvera, PE, LCI | Civil Engineer City of Visalia
● John Y. Liu, Deputy District Director, District 6

We hope to be joined by the city of Visalia Transit Department and a representative from the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

As always, this panel discussion will be highly interactive and invite questions from the audience. Such issues to be addressed:

● What will change in the next five years? For motorists? For business? For others?
● How will getting us out of our cars improve air quality?
● Why should I ride a bus or take a train? How long will it take before it is more attractive or economical for me to take a train to Los Angeles or San Francisco?
● How is Visalia’s public transportation working? What is ridership? What else is in the works?
● What are the visionary things in the works for transportation?
● What are the features of the Visalia bike plan?
● Where can walkable cities work? Is Visalia walkable now?
● How will “micro transit work?” Does it get us out of our cars?
● What does Tulare County infrastructure look like in 25 years?

The signs are everywhere: California has committed to zero emissions in the sale of new vehicles by 2035. Diesel-powered trucks will be outlawed nationwide by 2036, and earlier in some states. The future of transportation isn’t some distant vision. Some of it is now.

We’re not driving around in flying cars, but we are talking about mass transit that can “fly.”
How? To find out, attend the next forum from Tulare County Voices at 210 and join the community conversation.

Tulare County Voices at 210 is a monthly interactive forum dedicated to examining issues of interest to the community.

Paul Hurley is former community conversation editor for the Visalia Times-Delta and a member of the Tulare County Voices @ 210 planning team. This forum will be live-streamed at

One thought on “Flying into the future

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  1. In your article you mentioned “high-speed transit” but didn’t specify what that entails. I take it you mean high-speed rail.

    Californians are addicted to driving. So, some questions:

    What is the percentage of Californians of driving age, not driving compared to those that do?

    Is the ratio of Californians of driving age driving vs those of driving age but not driving, going to appreciably change in the future, and, if so, in which direction (fewer Californians driving, more Californians driving) is it predicted to go?

    Are air quality considerations going to factor in “more” or “less” in terms of how San Joaquin Valley residents’ travel needs are met in the future?

    While I won’t be attending tonight’s meeting, and also do not have a Facebook account (I’m not big on using social media), I would like to get answers to these and other relevant questions asked at the meeting.

    Just my opinion, but I don’t think the flying cars idea is going to get off the ground in any significant way. I don’t see how it could ever be regulated nor how mid-air collisions would be prevented.

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