Sustainable transportation key to successful cities

by Raymond Parker on September 12, 2011

in Advocacy, Climate, Environment, Video

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Los Angeles Smog

Beginning today, I’ll be following up on the pledge I made last week in a vlog post, to revisit the topic of sustainable transportation and urban planning.

Economists like Jeff Rubin predict cities that neglect investment in sustainable public transportation risk foundering in a world ruled by rising fossil fuel costs. 

Progressive city planners at the same time warn that governments can no longer afford the massive subsidies required to keep the personal automobile running on time.  

The age of the automobile has left us with communities built for cars rather than people. What will it take to make the places we live sustainable into the 21st century?

In the embedded video, Marlon Boarnet, Professor of Planning, Policy and Design, University of California Irvine School of Social Ecology asks how we might better design cities to address the social issue of land use and transportation. Innovation in this area could lead to a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gasses.

Almost 1/3 of emissions in the United States come from the transportation sector.

California Senate Bill 375, commits Southern California to “reduce 8% of greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks through integrated transportation, land use, housing and environmental planning by 2020.”

Those modest goals will nonetheless require a coordinated effort from all levels of government and public willing to adapt to change.

As we’ll see in the next few days, California is not the only place looking toward the future.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Ryan September 14, 2011 at 3:22 am

It’s hard to argue that the real “livable cities” of the future are places such as Copenhagen, Malmo, Amsterdam, Berlin etc. all of which invest in cycling.
Most of North America will be left in the dark.

If I look at what David Miller wanted to do with Toronto, he was looking to the future, then in one month all his work was wiped out by Ford.

My own city is starting to have a growing anti-bike movement. Despite efforts from the city council to improve bike infrastructure, we’re stuck hearing things such as “5 months only for cycling, don’t pay taxes, car is here to stay” and the regular rhetoric.

I’m far less optimistic about Canada’s (Ontario at least) future now then I was a few months ago.


Raymond Parker September 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

It’s hard to argue with people who have their heads firmly planted in the sand (tar sand perhaps).

It is easy to become disheartened when we see the kind of retrograde developments represented by the election of the Ford brothers.

However, there is nothing they can do to delay the inevitable. The question is, will that kind of inertia lead to insolvable problems that everyone must then endure?

An optimist, I believe today’s Fords will become tomorrow’s pariahs, as reality dawns. And those shouting the loudest against their failures will be the ones who voted for them.

Meanwhile, there are good people–like Marlon Boarnet–who are planning for the kind of future blinkered Fordites could never imagine.


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