Relating Peak Oil To Auto Dependency And Urban Planning

Daniel Lerch, author of "Post Carbon Cities" presents his thoughts for a new California Dream in a 'post carbon future' in which cars still exist but are used sparingly due to urban planning that reduces their necessity. He looks toward Portland.
September 30, 2008, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"For years we've tried to limit sprawl and promote transit, bicycling and walking – first in the name of conservation and quality of life, more recently to fight global warming. Today peak oil (the looming high point of global oil production) and the end of cheap oil make it more urgent than ever to reduce our dependence on cars.

There's a problem, though. We're stuck with the landscape we've built over the past 60 years, much of which is literally uninhabitable without a car.

This underlines an essential point for the real transportation future of California. The car will not disappear: It's simply too useful. But how we use cars, how we plan our economies and communities around cars and even how we build cars, all have to change.

California is already on the route toward breaking its ingrained car dependence with legislation like Senate Bill 375, which links energy use with transportation and land development. The challenges we face in global warming and declining oil supplies, however, require that we do more than just tinker around with zoning codes and transportation funding. We need to fundamentally rethink the way we do urban planning and the way we fund public infrastructure, and fast.

Portland, Ore., remains the best American example of this fundamental rethinking, with its vibrant downtown, pioneering light-rail system and strict constraints on suburban sprawl."

Thanks to MTC-ABAG Library

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Published on Sunday, September 21, 2008 in The Sacramento Bee
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