> The problem is that car (and truck) use will inevitably be in conflict
> with this approach, but eliminating all car and truck use is not an
> option. However, they need to be restrained if we are to get a good
> sustainability outcome. Unfortunately the opportunity for restraint was
> missed first time around and we have been living with the consequences
> ever since.
Well, today we're presented with a second chance to restrain them. And the
need for sustainability is a pretty good reason.
> Left to itself the car creates risk for pedestrians and
> cyclists, slows buses and trams by congestion, blocks streets (and
> footpaths) by parking, and makes streets and adjacent buildings noisy
> and fume-filled. Cars also offer the prospect of easy escape to rural
> peace but never deliver for any length of time.
And when every one needs to escape at the same time, they're pretty useless
(e.g., evacuating New Orleans, or typical Friday evenings and Sunday nights
between cities and cottage country).
> Worse, urban planning has tended to focus on facilitating a
> less-sustainable mode which is in conflict with more
> sustainable/old-fashioned/less sexy modes.
> If sustainability is an objective, then the target needs to be
> minimising the unsustainable effects of car use.
Not minimizing car use itself?
> This still tends to
> focus on easing congestion, because cars are less polluting in
> free-flowing traffic. But seen from an urban sustainability
> perspective, it might be better to focus on ensuring that the
> sustainable modes can function adequately:
This is where the typical road engineering mindset reveals itself. Reducing
congestion _induces_ more driving, and it is unsustainable.
There are two approaches to reducing congestion: reducing the car population
(which carsharing and high ownership taxes address) or widening the
congested roads, at least at intersections (where it most affects
pedestrians, transit, and cycling). A third approach, getting those with
cars not to use them at peak periods, has proven to be unworkable, since
people who have cars will simply want to use that as much as possible. You
have to bribe them with low fares and luxury amenities to get them to use
it -- or charge enormous sums for parking at the destination.
> Lower speed limits (mostly 30 km/h)
Yes! But let's pick the speed of bicycles (20-25 kms/h), getting rid of the
need to segregate modes by speed, and reducing the speed advantage of the
unsustainable mode over the sustainable.
> Close rat runs
This is an approach that is proving to be unsustainable, partly because it
lengthens trips for the residents of an area, congests the streets with
services, where the most walking and cycling occures, and only mimics the
disdained suburban road patterns. Reducing roadspace is more effective
(e.g., yield streets).
> Bus and tram priority and lanes (closing lanes to cars will INCREASE
Yes, it increases people capacity, but how to you get people with expensive
personal cars to to agree to ride in the buses?
> Less street parking and NO footpath parking
Sorry, but street parking is superior for pedestrians and car occupants to
off-street parking, and it reduces space for _moving_ traffic. A city with
only shared cars would probably not need any off-street parking. Parking
should stop being a required ancillary use, letting the marketplace provide
it if the provider can charge enough to exceed his costs. (See Shoup, "The
High Cost of Free Parking", 2004)
> Regular safe and easy crossing points for pedestrians
"Regular" could mean any number of things. A good street is one where a
pedestrian can cross anywhere, after only a few seconds waiting for a gap in
traffic (or a conscientious driver who yields). The lengthening of theh
distance between crossing points to coincide where drivers need access has
resulted in distances that are all too far apart. But when the street is
too wide (more than two lanes), pedestrians can be forced to use them.
> > In order to sell the idea to cities, cities will want to see that
> > their spatial influence is being increased. In sustainability terms,
> > this is not something we ACTUALLY want to do. Can we really get round
> > this?
Cities are simply inventions in increased human productivity and creativity
that comes with compacting space according to some simple rules. Those
rules were thrown out with the embrace of the automobile by consumers and
engineers (and engineering is the father of land-use planning, not
architecture, as it should have been, since the latter understood the way
city culture is created and enhanced). Ask yourself, does the city of today
allow the average resident to reach as many everyday destinations with a
10-minute drive as the city of 100 years ago provided with a 10-minute
> > Larger cities rely economically on a large hinterland - London would
> > collapse economically if commuting from outside the city became
> > difficult, and other cities worldwide are similar.
The hinterland is very important for getting food and natural resources, but
there is nothing inherent in the urban workforce having to live in the
> > Do we first have to react to the current situation, to meet the needs
> > of the way people are living now more sustainably, before "tightening
> > the net"? I can't see that we can do anything else, because if we
> > don't appeal to the travel patterns, needs and desires of as many
> > people as possible as quickly as possible, then we're going to stay
> > as a niche interest. I'm not saying that we have to allow people all
> > the mobility choices (spatially) that they have now, but we need to
> > ensure they have all the accessibility choices (to jobs, services
> > etc.) and don't feel hard done by.
I think that the energy shortages and price that are accompanying 'peak oil'
may pre-empt this gentle approach.
> >> It follows then that walking including human powered vehicles of
> >> all types and for all purposes (ie including cycling) must rank far
> >> higher as ST than any form of carbon consuming mode
I have come up with a way to measure different trips: Distance x Modal
'footprint' x a factor that accounts for storage requirements (parking),
manufacturing costs, anxiety (speed x size x threat to energy security), and
pollution (not just directly from the vehicle). For example, walking in a
traditional neighbourhood to the grocery store 1/2 km away provides a score
of 1 (1km x 1m2 x factor of one); the same trip in suburbia to a grocery
store 3.5 kms away is scored as 1,050 (7km x 30m2 x factor of 5).
As to Dave Wetzel's pitch for land taxes, I find this approach looks only at
density and ignores how the land uses in an area _complement_ each other to
reduce the length of trips required by the people who reside and work there.
If there is good complementarity (what I call TRD, or travel-reducing
development), the taxes should actually be lower than for properties in
areas that don't have that quality. The latter areas 'cause' many longer
(or high-footprint) trips, which cost the city administration (and the
travelers) lots. Planners have championed _compatibility_ of land uses
instead of _complementarity_, and have required those doing the building to
meet only one significant need of the land's occupants: a place to park
their car, the ubiuquitous distance-slayer. (The requirement to provide a
toilet is in the building code, not the planner's zoning code.)