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Re: WorldTransport Forum "Highjacking sustainable transport"

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  • Chris Bradshaw
    Eric, I find this list a real yawner. Sounds like a report of a consultant after a public participation exercise, as an effort to show all interest groups
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 2006

      I find this list a real yawner. Sounds like a report of a consultant after
      a public participation exercise, as an effort to show all interest groups
      they were heard, and now the engineers who really run things can get back to
      building what they wanted in the first place: roads that carry vehicles full
      of things and not very full of people as fast as possible, without anything
      getting in their way. You get to claim the high road, while they continue
      to dominate the low one.

      First,I think it has to show a better understanding of what I call the
      "ecology of transportation." Since engineers don't understand it, you have
      to talk in mechanistic terms that do understand. David Engwicht, in his
      books, takes a good stab at it. Jane Jacobs, in _Death..._ does the same for
      planners. They want a science that serves people _in_ communities, not a
      delivery system for an infrastructure to serve the private-car/truck market.

      I wrote the "Green Transportation Hierarchy" in 1991 as my effort to do
      this. It looks at travel value/per unit of what we now call footprint. I
      attach it.

      One of the elements that comes out of this approach is that _informal_
      transportation (walking, and most cycling) is better than formal
      transportation on every measure except speed and isolation from one's
      immediate surroundings (a positve to safety poeple and the commercial
      interests championing "privacy", but a negative factor to "convivialists"),
      as speed requires a "shell of safety" for the occupants, and requires giant
      setback for adjacent landusers. And at intersections, you get huge public
      works projects, with mayhem being the result of saving money with at-grade

      This formality requires not just big roadways with lots of open space on
      either side, it requires rules, regulations, insurance, and excessive
      vehicle design criteria. A car is simply a bike designed for higher speeds,
      each system expanded 20 times or so (impacts increase at the square of the
      speed differential).

      And what is speed to a road engineer? It is god (even though they justify
      it by using "safety" as its surrogate). But transportation ecology shows
      that it is something else. As speeds increase, a particular section of
      roadway can accommodate fewer cars, such that the roads's capacity expressed
      as vehicles/hr. actually declines a bit as design speeds increase. That is
      not good for the collective whole, as the only way to get speeds high is for
      fewer people to be able to drive at any time. The real problem is that, as
      speeds increase, and drivers _expect_ more time savings, they will, over
      time, simply arrange their life to _need_ to drive further for each trip (I
      saw a figure in a recent UNC master's thesis that says between 1970 and
      2000, the U.S. pop. grew by less than 1/4 the rate of VMT, vehicle-miles
      traveled) Obviously _demand_ for road space, as Rory McMullun suggested, is
      not finite; it should not be accommodated, but managed.

      My NRFUT (neighbourhood-radius Foot-unit of Travel -- in my "Using Our Feet
      to Reduce Our Footprint" paper, also attached), is another attempt to
      qualify each trip's footprint.

      There is also a street ecology at work, telling us what makes streets, our
      main (and largest and most intensively) shared public space system,
      convivial and productive to human affairs. I have coined the phrases, "Feet
      Follow Fabric" to suggest what essential element streets must have, which,
      of course, include Jacobs' "eyes on the street" as well as "Maximizes
      Commerce, Minimizes Commotion" to describe the elements of transportation
      overall in human affairs (commerce, of course, includes an human
      relationships). I wrote about it in a submission to our roads department
      about 10 years ago, which I can send to you as well).

      Finally, your politically-correct elements of thinking about the young, the
      poor, the disabled, the elderly, and women carries the implication that
      everyone else (whom I call the AAAs, active, affluent adults) actually are
      well served by the current status quo. They are not. They hate themselves
      for being on the current treadmill of driving more but enjoying it less.
      They don't like worring about hitting vulnerable road users; they don't like
      to see their kids tethered and unhappy in their rearview mirrors or worrying
      about running over them in parking lots and driveways; they don't like
      spending time in anonymous roadway environments where there are no longer
      any social conventions mandating civil behaviour; and they don't like the
      fact that their household's in-town transportation costs now exceed their
      housing costs. Everyone is losing; and the planet is not far from gagging
      on it all.

      I'll leave this topic for now. Get back to me if you agree that it might be
      worthwhile to start over again and want any part of it developed further.

      Chris Bradshaw
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