My career is based, to a large degree, on my master’s thesis, which was a comprehensive evaluation of the full costs of various forms of transport. This provides a framework for determining optimal pricing, calculating the benefits of mode shifting and demand management strategies, and for comprehensive analysis of policy and planning decisions.
There are various ways to define building sustainability. A narrow perspective assumes that sustainable development simply means that buildings minimize energy consumption and climate change emissions, but a broader perspective recognizes that sustainability requires consideration of additional economic, social and other environmental impacts, such as lifecycle affordability, social equity, community integration, public health and safety, and land use impacts.
We live in a wonderful age! Scientists have proven that many simple, affordable, and often enjoyable activities make us healthier and happier: breath fresh air, avoid dangerous driving, be physically active, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, maintain friendships, play games, and avoid excessive stress. Even chocolate, red wine and sex are perscribed, in moderation, for health sake.
The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics are over now. City Planner Brent Toderian described in a recent Planetizen blog how the event showcased Vancouver’s Urbanism, including the quality of its neighborhoods, streets and public transit system, and the delight of a shared community experience.
Local governments are increasingly encouraging or even requiring LEED certification in new development, which is nice, but most continue to require generous minimum parking supply, which contradicts their goals.
Most North American cities offer only basic public transit service, with limited coverage and frequency, modest speeds, unattractive waiting areas, poor land use integration, and few amenities. Such service is used primarily by people who lack alternatives. In such communities, riders tend to abandon public transit as soon as feasible.
As planners, one of our roles is to help stretch the scope of what is considered possible. For example, between 1950 and 2000 most development was highly automobile-dependent, based on the assumption that almost all travel would be by personal automobile and other modes were relatively unimportant. This pattern is so well established that many people have difficulty imagining anything different. It is useful to help people understand the full range of options available, from automobile dependency to carfree communities.
Last week I attended the Transportation Research Boards (TRB) 89th annual meeting, which attracted approximately 10,000 transportation professionals from around the globe to Washington DC. More than 2,000 papers were presented at more than 700 sessions, plus several hundred committee meetings took place. Let me share some highlights.