Automobile Dependence and the Future of Roads

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The future for roads in 2050 – Australian perspectives on sustainable transportation (World Streets, Apr. 23, 2010)

Also discussed here: RESILIENT CITIES – Responding to the Crash, Peak Oil and Climate Change (151 page pdf slideshow, Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia)

And here: Sustainable Urban Transport – Responding to the crash…. (35 page pdf slideshow, Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia)

From the father of “automobile dependence”,  Prof. Peter Newman, comes a look at what lies ahead for roads – in Australia at least, but many of his observations appear valid in similar countries such as the US and Canada. From an urban air quality viewpoint, roads and the vehicles that use them represent one of biggest if not the greatest source of pollution – as discussed in more detail in this recent post Vehicle Emissions and Climate Impacts.

Urban sprawl and pressures to accommodate it have resulted in cities whose downtowns are choked with emissions, particularly on the multi-lane roads that converge on the urban centre(s). The long-term solution seems to lie in redesigned cities that discourage car use through offering more attractive alternatives including rapid transit, cycling and walking with job locations closer to residential areas.

Key Quotes:

“we will have roads with about 50% fewer cars on them in 2050 compared to today.”

“a structural shift as public transport use has accelerated rapidly and younger people are driving the market for more urban locations where they need cars less.”

“reclaiming road space for more urban uses..with a light rail, removing cars altogether from most of the city centre road system and in sub centres.

“sub-centres will be built across the polycentric city. Cycling and walking will be the preferred choice for all local trips as parking will be so expensive and car access into all centres across the city will be much less attractive for cars”

“will have a much more extensive electric rail system and all cars will be plug-in electric”

“Cities adapt to the one-hour travel time budget no matter what infrastructure is provided.“

“in Australian cities each new block on the fringe of redevelopment:

  • Is subsidised by $85,000 in infrastructure.
  • Costs $250,000 extra in transport costs over 50 years.
  • Produces 4.4 tonnes/yr more in greenhouse gases, and health savings“
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