Saturday, July 16, 2011

Transportation Fridays: Three Ideas to Change Transportation Planning

by Betsy Harvey, MCRP '12

What emerging ideas and trends of today will change the course of transportation planning for tomorrow? This week I want to touch on three new policies and ideas that I think will do so, and in the next three weeks, I will dedicate a post to each. While they are still in their infancy, I think they have big implications for the future of transportation, and cities in general. No longer, it seems, are activists the only ones pushing for safer, more inclusive roads; policy-makers are also moving toward viewing streets as public spaces for all users. This doesn’t cover all of them, of course, so what else do you think will change planning?
1.       On May 5 and May 24, the House and the Senate, respectively, introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011. If passed, the act would require all federally funded transportation projects include proper facilities for all road users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, children, the elderly and transit users. They are currently being reviewed by subcommittees. The law would not only make streets more accessible safer as well; in the last ten years, 67% of pedestrian deaths occurred on federal roads.
2.       On March 5, the Christian Science Monitor reported that New Haven, Connecticut is tearing out the highway that has sliced through the heart of the city for decades. Other cities are taking out their highways as well, including Providence, Road Island and Baltimore, the latter of which is being replaced by parking and a light-rail station. Razing highways will not alone revitalize a depressed neighborhood, so it will be interesting to see the consequences for the affected neighborhoods.
3.       We’re familiar with private and public space . . . but what about social space? It’s a new way to look at streets: as social space, the theme of the recent 5th Annual Congress of Cities for Mobility that took place on July 3-5 in Stuttgart, Germany. How can imagining streets as social space change the way we build and use them?

What do you think are the policies and ideas that will shape planning in the future?

1 comment:

  1. You bring up great points. I believe complete streets should include green infrastructure as well. Stormwater planter bump-outs, porous paver parking lanes and street trees all buffer pedestrians from the traffic lane and provide sustainable on-site stormwater benefits to help create a healthier urban water cycle.