Cities across the world experience more and more traffic and everything indicates that it will continue to increase in the future. This means more congestion, limited space and, thereby, decreased mobility of goods and people. This post covers the concept and my reflections from Sustainable Urban Transport, as part of the Principles and Practice of Urban Design module.
Increasing urbanisation doesn’t necessarily mean less sustainable transport. Densely populated cities present economic, environmental and social challenges, but they might actually work in favour of highly-efficient transport systems designed for the masses (LaBrecque, 2014). According to Transport for London, 17% of all traffic in London is due to deliveries and collections, rising to 25% in central London (LaBrecque, 2014).
Urbanisation causes increasing problems with traffic congestion leading to reduced mobility and rising CO2 emissions from road traffic. Congestion in one street can often be measured throughout a city’s transportation network, and even slight changes in overall travel time can result in massive socioeconomic surpluses or deficits due to its effect on businesses’ productivity (NEWS, 2014).
Traffic jams are getting worse, with London hold-ups increasing despite the congestion charge, according to figures. UK drivers wasted a total of 30 hours in traffic congestion in 2013 – one hour more than in 2012 – statistics from traffic information company Inrix showed (NEWS, 2014).
Figure 1. London came second in the most congested cities list
Of 25 of the most congested cities in Europe for urban traffic, London was second only to Brussels (83 hours wasted last year). Inrix also listed the worst roads in the UK based on total annual hours of delay in the peak period. Overall, the UK was the sixth-worst congested country for traffic in 2013 (NEWS, 2014).
An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.
Rupert Fausset, principal sustainability adviser at Forum for the Future said:
Cities are powerhouses of the economy. But a well-planned, dense city can actually make sustainable mobility easier as active travel (biking, walking) and public transport work well in that situation.
It is estimated that 9 billion people will inhabit the planet by 2050 – 70% of these will live in cities. The increasing urbanisation will be a challenge to cities all over the world and the demand for new innovative solutions within urban mobility is growing (State of Green, 2016).
By integrating different modes of transportation, urban planning can address climate and environmental issues such as private car use and congestion, for instance through increased public transportation and be facilitating greener alternatives, which saves both time and cost for people and society (State of Green, 2016).
Green liveable cities
Cities must be built for people in order to be sustainable, healthy and liveable. Targeted policy-making to ensure that the residents of the city are invited to walk and bike as much as possible in connection with their daily activities is a strong reinforcement of these objectives. The key is to acknowledge the importance of city space and city life as an attractive, informal and democratic meeting place for the residents in the 21st century (the State of Green, 2016).
Figure 3. Green City
Planning for the future is about planning for intermobility, combining the best qualities of various modes of transportation in the different parts of the cities. Building a convenient and time-saving transport system makes it possible for people to move seamlessly between bike, bus, train, car, and metro services. When planning mobility, the focus should, therefore, be on the first and last mile of the journey, as much as on the main choice of transportation (State of Green, 2016).
Interconnected public transportation optimises the use of urban space in a very effective way. Focusing on moving commuters from the single use of cars into other more sustainable modes of transportation thereby allows for a reduction in traffic congestion in the city, secures more reliable travel times for the passengers, and decreases valuable time lost in commuting time (the State of Green, 2016).
Figure 4. Expanding and regenerated City of Carlisle
In the Lecture, we are a team of new and ambitious Transport Planners for an expanding and regenerated City of Carlisle (Figure 4). The aim is developing a sustainable travel network to support active and public transport around the city that replaces 80% of car journeys within 15 years. Transportation is integral to small-town life and a vibrant economy. We recognize walking, biking, and driving as quintessential modes of travel to various destinations important to residents and visitors. In this participatory discuss, we want to find out which factors and conditions affect transportation use in Carlisle, and how we improved route and transportation choices locally.
LaBrecque, S. (2014) Technology and sustainable urban transport. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/dec/05/sustainable-transport-urban-technology-debate-city-clean. (Accessed: 12th December 2017)
NEWS (2014) Drivers waste 30 hours a year in jams: Britain’s ten worst roads for congestion are revealed (and they are all in London). Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2572595/Drivers-waste-30-hours-year-jams-Britains-ten-worst-roads-congestion-revealed-London.html. (Accessed: 12th December 2017).
State of Green (2016) Sustainable Urban Transportation. Copenhagen: State of Green.