Re: WorldTransport Forum What is 'Sustainable Transportation'? (And how, if at all, does it relate to the New Mobility Agenda?)
Your essay for Wikipedia is a worthy effort to bring this term some measure
of recognition and meaning.
To me, one must understand 'sustainable' and 'transportation' separately.
Sustainable is an adjective which can be used with a wide range of nouns,
usually complex processes (as contrasted to "sustainability," a noun). It
means to carry out the process identified by the noun in a way that does not
undercut the basic conditions for the continuation of the process.
In the case of running a company, it means doing things such that it can be
truly a "going concern." It has to treat its employees well, so they
continue to work hard, and to listen to each other. It has to take care of
its equipment, and to replace worn out units before they fail at important
times or injure the employees. It means finding raw materials and ensuring
they are available for access, including being fair with the owners of the
Applied to development, it means protecting the resources -- raw material,
people, sources of finance, and approval of governments and the people -- so
that it can continue to develop.
Applied to education, it refers to passing on knowledge in a way that
doesn't snuff out natural curiosity. ("Sustainable education" is not to be
confused with "sustainability education").
Applied to transportation, it has to mean that transportation must be run in
a way that it doesn't undercut itself. That means not running out of
energy; not causing people to become angry about the impacts of traffic near
them and to shut down the corridor or at a larger scale, take other punitive
measure; not creating ill health for those using it or living nearby; etc.
Do we understand the basic conditions of transportation? Do we know how
much energy and how much "rolling stock" is necessary to do each kind of
movement, and do we know how to ensure we don't go beyond these limits? Can
we provide access to it that is equitable, so that it will not create
'enemies' that will politically undercut it, or that will hurt the
sustainability of other important processes? Can we overcome distance in a
way that doesn't increase distance for future trips? Is there a magic ratio
of effort related to getting somewhere compared to the benefits realized
after we arrive (There is a principle used by the peak-oil people that
refers to the ratio between the energy used to recover a unit of energy
compared to the energy provided by the recoverd unit)?
It seems that transportation today is guilty of anwering all these questions
badly, such that the basic pre-conditions for transportation are being
undercut. The energy supplies are running out, such that transportation
will face both shortages and steeply increasing costs. The quality of air
and water are in decline, such that the ability to enjoy the fruits of
travel are declining. The equitable spread of the commons costs and
negative impacts of transportation are poorly distributed, such that user
fees for road and parking are either unrelated to use or are charged rates
that fall far short of the cost of providing them, and such that the poor,
young, and elderly are more likely to live near busy, noisy roadways, to
suffer from low transportation resources, and to pay through taxes and
prices for services they don't use.
The simplest principle is the oldest. The term "usufruct" refers to the
traditional practice of picking the fruit, but leaving the tree, so that the
latter can continue to produce the former, ad infinitum. But are we guilty
of allowing, and even exalting, development processes, business-as-usual,
rote-education, and flatulent transportation that is doing the opposite,
almost literally guilty of burning the furniture in order to keep our
over-sized palace warm.
> Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2006 3:51 AMhow, if at all, does it relate to the New Mobility Agenda?)
> Subject: WorldTransport Forum What is 'Sustainable Transportation'? (And
> What is 'Sustainable Transportation'?. . . . .