Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spatial Planning, Urban Form and Sustainable Transport: An Introduction

by Katie Williams

The ways in which we travel are having a huge impact on the sustainability of the planet. There is general agreement that current levels of car use, fuel consumption and emissions are unsustainable. The issue which this book addresses is the relationship between travel patterns and the physical form of cities. It considers how urban form affects mobility, and the role of spatial planning in that relationship.
The debate about whether particular urban forms, in terms of their shape, density, configuration and so on, can have an impact on the sustainability of cities has a relatively long and rich history (see for example, Breheny, 1992; Williams et al. 2000; de Roo and Miller, 2000). Within this debate, researchers and planning practitioners have considered the impact of urban form on a number of elements of sustainability, such as social equity, accessibility, ecology, economic performance, pollution and health. However, the issue which has attracted the most attention both academically and in practice is the impact of city form on transport and mobility. In particular, this field of enquiry has concentrated on the ‘best’ urban forms to facilitate sustainable transport solutions, generally seen as reducing trip lengths and times, reducing reliance on the car, enabling efficient public transport, encouraging walking and cycling and reducing transport-related emissions, pollution and accidents.
The outcome of much of this research is an advocacy of ‘contained’, compact, urban layouts, with a mix of uses in close proximity: i.e. a move away from functional land use zoning and a reduction of urban sprawl. The reasoning is that such forms reduce travel demand because people can work near their homes and make use of local services and facilities. Such forms can also provide population densities high enough to support public transport services and, through improved urban design, encourage cycling and walking. Variations on this model, with concentrations of high density developments around public transport nodes, or in local neighbourhoods within a city, are also advocated.

more about sustainable transportation:


16-Mile Bike Lane Connects Detroit Neighborhoods

New Design Standards For Neo-traditional and Low Speed Neighborhood Streets

Metro Vancouver Walkability Index

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