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What is 'Sustainable Transportation'? (And how, if at all, does it relate to the New Mobility Agenda?)

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  • eric.britton
    What is Sustainable Transportation ? (And how, if at all, does it relate to the New Mobility Agenda?) New Mobility Note & Invitation to Discussion: Editor s
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2006
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      What is ‘Sustainable Transportation’?

      (And how, if at all, does it relate to the New Mobility Agenda?)

       

      New Mobility Note & Invitation to Discussion:

       

      Editor’s note: We have always felt that these two concepts represent in a rough way two sides of the same basic coin. “Sustainable transportation” defines the problem set and then goes on to provide clues and in some cases supporting structures as to the kinds of solutions that should be better understood and pursued. By contrast the “New Mobility Agenda” is just that, an agenda for change, concentrating on specific measure and tools and implementation and coordination strategies, with strong emphasis on short term (2-4 years) impacts. But just to be sure that this is clear and correct, we have taken to the Wikipedia to post and test these two views. Starting with the first, here you have our very rough and incomplete first cut – for your comment and improvement. (Further background on the workings and values of the Wikipedia, will be found on the New Mobility Agenda site by clicking the Wikipedia link on the top menu.)

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       From The Economist Newspaper, Jan 19th 2006. Source: http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=5407644 

       

      Sustainable transportation (Entry under development)

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, as per Sunday, January 29, 2006.

      Full article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_transportation

      Also commonly referred to [Sustainable Transport] or [Sustainable Mobility], there is no widely accepted definition of sustainable transportation by any of these names. One offered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) may be noted: "Transportation that does not endanger public health or ecosystems and meets mobility needs consistent with (a) use of renewable resources at below their rates of regeneration and (b) use of non-renewable resources at below the rates of development of renewable substitutes". (See the [TDM Encyclopedia of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute] for more definitions.)

      Over most of the twentieth century, it was assumed that adequate transportation structures needed to be built since they provide an essential underpinning to growth and economic health. Accordingly the main concern of transport planners and policy makers was in the "supply" of transportation, and specifically in ensuring that the supporting infrastructure was going to be adequate to support all projected requirements. The dominant approach was, therefore, to forecast and then build to meet. In public transport planning likewise it was the supply and efficient operation of vehicles that got the build of attention. As a result, it is claimed by many analysts and observers that most places have as a results heavily overbuilt their physical transportation infrastructures, which in fact has led to unsustainable levels of traffic and resource use.

      The sustainable transportation movement, which has gradually gained in force over the last decade and a half, has in the process started to shift the emphasis in public spending and actions away from building and supply, to management and demand. In all cases the values of heightened respect of the environment and prudent use of natural resources are central, with varying degrees of urgency expressed by different actors and interests.

      In general the phrase is used to encourage more attention to “softer transport options” such as improved provision for cycling, walking, public spaces, rail and other forms of public transport, together with more aggressive control of car use in central areas. It is not usually used to qualify high technology projects such as monorails, Personal Rapid Transport and the like, not least since one of the earmarks of sustainable transport projects is that they are in general careful users of money and space.

      Sustainable transportation programs are increasingly giving attention to the importance of cutting the number of vehicles in circulation (VMT) though a wide range of Transportation Demand Management measures. They also look to “movement substitutes” such as telework, telecommuting and better clustering of activities so as to reduce the need for motorized transport.

      Whereas it started as a movement driven by environmental concerns, over these last years there has been increased emphasis on social equity and fairness issues, and in particular the need to ensure proper access and services for lower income groups and people with mobility limitations, including the fast growing population of older citizens. Many of those who have not traditionally been well served have been those who either cannot or should not drive their own cars, and those for whom the cost of ownership provides a sever financial burden.

      The automotive and energy industries increasingly use the term [Sustainable Mobility] to describe and promote their technology developments, primarily in the areas of new motive and engine technologies and advances. The impact of these advances however requires at least one or two decades to make a perceptible difference.

      Short History

      The terms ‘sustainable transportation’ is an almost accidental follow-on to the earlier term the Sustainable Development whose origins in turn were the 1987 Our Common Future (1987, World Commission on Environment and Development of the United Nations. In the years following publication of the Bruntland Report, there was considerable discussion of a variety of issues that are part of the sustainable development nexus, but transportation considerations were not in the front line in those early years.

      One of the first international organizations to have a closer look at the concept of sustainable transport from the vantage of government policy was a small international working group led by Peter Wiederkehr at the OECD in 1994, that agreed that a new policy approach is needed which places environmental criteria up front along with other policy goals. Recognizing this need, the OECD initiated in 1994 an international project to define and chart a path towards Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST). The overall objectives of the EST project were to provide an understanding of EST its implications and requirements, and to develop methods and guidelines towards its realization. The core of the EST approach was to develop long-term scenarios and identify instruments and strategies capable of achieving it. To this end the OECD organize with the Government of Canada the 1996 [International Conference: Towards Sustainable Transportation] in Vancouver, Canada. One result of this were the 1996 Vancouver Principles towards Sustainable Transportation and the strategic directions. (The OECD project shut down its operation in July 2004, though the members of the original working group continue to communicate and collaborate at the specific project and policy level under the leadership of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Environment.)

      Some Definitions

      The [Canadian Centre for Sustainable Transportation] defines it as follows:

      A sustainable transportation system is one that:

      • Allows the basic access needs of individuals and societies to be met safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and with equity within and between generations.

      • Is affordable, operates efficiently, offers choice of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy.

      • Limits emissions and waste within the planet’s ability to absorb them, minimizes consumption of non-renewable resources, limits consumption of renewable resources to the sustainable yield level, reuses and recycles its components, and minimizes the use of land and the production of noise.

      Sustainable transportation is about meeting or helping meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Agenda 21 made several references to the environmental and social impacts of transportation. However, despite transportation's profound relevance to the attainment of sustainable development, Agenda 21 did not contain a chapter on transportation and thus did not provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to the subject. Our capacity to meet many of the environmental objectives listed in Agenda 21 depends on our ability to properly address concerns related to transportation activities in OECD and other countries.


      The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment offers this definition: “Sustainable transport is about finding ways to move people, goods and information in ways that reduce its impact on the environment, the economy, and society. Some options include:” using transport modes that use energy more efficiently, such as walking or cycling and public transport improving transport choice by increasing the quality of public transport, cycling and walking facilities, services and environments Improving the efficiency of our car use, such as using more fuel efficient vehicles, driving more efficiently, avoiding cold starts, and car pooling using cleaner fuels and technologies using telecommunications to reduce or replace physical travel, such as tele-working or tele-shopping planning the layout of our cities to bring people and their needs closer together, and to make cities more vibrant and walkable developing policies that allow and promote these options, such as the New Zealand Transport Strategy.

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      Internal References (Note of the following are live links)

      3.1 Context

      3.2 Demand Management

      3.3 Supply Management

      3.4 See also

      4 External References

       

      2006 progress evaluation

      The term sustainable transportation and its variants has informed a certain number of university programs and NGOs, and while it is richly debated in specific circles until now it has by and large failed to enter into the mainstream of transport policy and practice in most places -- if by that is meant money invested. But one can say that first steps have been taken and that the movement is gradually developing force. But it has a long way to go if it is ever to become mainstream. ericbritton 16:42, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

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      For the New Mobility Agenda entry (also in process and still very rough):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mobility_Agenda

       

       

       

       

       

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