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.
Last week I posted a blog, “Win-Win Transportation Emission Reduction Strategies: Good News for Copenhagen” which described emission reduction strategies that also help achieve economic and social objectives. I’ve continued doing research on the subject and made some additonal discoveries that I can report on now.
Here is good news for anybody looking for smart ways to reduce climate change. "Win-Win" transportation emission reduction strategies can provide substantial energy conservation and emission reductions in ways that also help achieve economic and social objectives.
Much of my work involves developing transportation demand management and smart growth policies which improve travel options (walking, cycling, public transit, carsharing, etc.), reform pricing and transport planning to encourage travelers to choose the most efficient mode for each trip, and create more accessible, multi-modal communities.
An important new book, Healthy, Equitable Transportation Policy: Recommendations and Research, and its summary report, The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America, were just published by the Convergence Partnership, a coalition that supports more rational and equitable health policy.
To celebrate an important victory a winning team sometimes parades around the arena with their coach on their shoulders as the fans cheer in adulation. Planners sometimes deserve similar treatment! For example, regardless of who wins the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be held in South Africa June and July 2010, the real victor will be residents of the four cities where matches will be held, who gain an efficient new public transportation system as a long-term legacy. Everybody wins!
A few days ago I posted a blog that discussed the concept of Universal Design (transportation facilities designed to accommodate all possible users, including those with disabilities and other special needs) and the value it provides to individuals and communities. One way to approach this issue is to define the design vehicle for pedestrian facilities.