The Seven Simple Truths of Sustainable Mobility (Come argue with me)
From Paul Minett, to World Streets. Submitted on 2011/02/26 at 03:24
Okay, I will argue with you, if it pleases you, Eric.
One the whole a great start for a discussion. Except for Truth 3, where VT (vehicle trips) are probably a more important metric than VMT or VKT, and Truth 6, where you suggest that we know everything need to know, which might be correct in a ‘technology’ sense but is clearly not the case in a behavioural and decision-making sense.
Why VT? We should break ‘unsustainable transport’ into two parts: the use of vehicles during off-peak, non-congested times; and the use of vehicles during peak, congested periods. The amount of externalities that an incremental trip causes in each of these two different parts are significantly different. Cutting out three short trips (low VMT) during peak might be as effective as cutting one long one (high VMT) off peak. Reducing the mulitiple impacts of congestion is more about getting the vehicle count (VT) reduced, than it is about reducing the amount of distance travelled.
What about the ‘everything is known’ mantra? I suggest this is one of the biggest hurdles to making progress. If we would just stop believing this for a moment, perhaps we would start to define the sort of applied research that would help us reach a target. In fact, if we got around to setting some targets, and really worked towards achieving them, we might also be much better off.
Having just begun marketing to actual commuters the concept of ‘express carpooling’ (see http://www.raspberryexpress.com) I can say that I think the most challenging thing we do not know is how to communicate with potential users. We can define the functionality of a new system, but do we a) really know commuters would use it, and b) know how to get into the commuters’ heads so that they are even aware of the new alternative? (By the way, if anyone has suggestions for me about this, I am open to hearing them).
Kind regards from Auckland, New Zealand.