Todd Litman is the executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Planners strive to anticipate future needs, which sometimes creates self-fulfilling prophecies: by preparing for a situation we help cause it. This
is particularly true of automobile
dependency. Planning decisions intended to accommodate automobile travel
can create a cycle of increased vehicle travel, more automobile-oriented planning, and reduced alternatives. This concept is conveyed brilliantly in the cartoon below, drawn
by transportation engineer Ian Lockwood and published in the March 2012 ITE Journal.
Sunday, April 8, 2012 - 6:36pm PDT
Our profession relies on logical analysis of accurate data.
There are an amazing number of ways to go wrong.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 11:44am PDT
Monday, February 27, 2012 - 5:30am PST
I write this column (2 February) the U.S. House Transportation Committee is debating changes
in H.R. 3864, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs
Act, which will determine future federal transportation policy.
Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 12:57pm PST
I am sorry to report that, Canada, my chosen country (I immigrated here in 1993), recently withdrew from the Kyoto Accord, which sets international climate change emission reduction targets.
It’s worth noting that this decision was made by the ruling Conservative Party which received less than 40% of total votes, but the other four parties split the
more progressive votes and are unable to form a coalition, resulting in federal policies that are far more politically conservative than the average Canadian
Friday, December 30, 2011 - 2:46pm PST
Bad planning simply extrapolates past trends:
“We experienced 2% annual growth during the last decade, so we’ll assume that
will continue into the future.” Good planning attempts to understand underlying factors
that affect change. Such is the case with the price elasticity of vehicle
travel, that is, the changes in vehicle travel caused by a change in transport
prices (fuel, parking, tolls, insurance, etc.).
Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 7:13pm PST
An important current policy debate concerns whether the next U.S. federal
surface transportation reauthorization should require spending on
“enhancements,” which finance projects such as walkways, bike paths, highway landscaping and historic preservation. This issue
receives considerable attention, despite the fact that enhancements represent less
than 2% of total federal surface transportation expenditures, because it raises
questions about future transport priorities, particularly the role of walking and cycling. In other words, should non-motorized modes be considered real transportation.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 11:13pm PST
Let me tell you
a scary story that you can use to frighten fellow planners at next week’s
Halloween party. It’s not just fun and games – this story is true and may
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 2:30am PDT
Once again the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) published its annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR), and once again I feel obliged to warn planners that it is based on faulty assumptions and biased analysis methods. This is not to deny that traffic congestion is a significant problem, but the UMR significantly exaggerates its importance compared with other transport costs and exaggerates roadway expansion benefits.
Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 12:57pm PDT
“The only thing we have to fear is fear
itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts
to convert retreat into advance” – President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932
This being the decade anniversary of the World
Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, it seems a good time to consider how
our society responds to such threats, and what planners can do to maximize safety.
Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 7:11am PDT