The Hague, Netherlands light rail train arrives at station
The Hague light-rail train system in The Netherlands is just one of many similar systems across Europe where public transit provides a much larger percentage of passenger miles traveled than in the automobile-dependent cities of North America.

Shift Happens

How intelligent urban development can foster sustainable mobility

By EV World

Cars and cities have a symbiotic relationship with each. The automobile facilitated expansive, peripheral growth around our cities, what has become known as "sprawl." That relationship, fed by cheap gasoline and low-cost farmlands around the boundary of our metropolitan areas, has been the central pillar of economic growth, especially in North America.

While it has fostered the spread of suburbs and their supporting infrastructure of highways and strip malls, it has also promoted the cancer that has eaten away the vital core of our central business districts. Now that stable energy prices -- not to mention fresh water availability -- seem a thing of the past and volatility is the name of the game, the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of suburbia is now in question, especially where public transit is largely non-existent.

In contrast, urban centers are experiencing a revitalization globally and in this Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar video, Urban Age Institute CEO Gordon Feller highlights numerous international examples of intelligent urban planning that reduce dependence on the private automobile. Instead of being dependent on cars and the energy they consume, progressive city planners are offering multiple mobility options from walkable communities, to bike lanes, to public transit.

As Feller explains, his focus is on the "soft-scape" of sustainable mobility as opposed to the "hard-scape" of technology. It's the harder-to-implement aspects of human behavior, consumer demand, government policy and regulatory environment as it impacts the shift towards a low-carbon society.

"The soft stuff involves just as much innovation as the hard stuff," he contends. "You're inventing new technologies. We're inventing in the social innovation domain new processes, new behaviors, new institutions."

He argues that we will see continual experimentation as cities strive to meet public demands for sustainable mobility and jobs while reducing their carbon footprint.

You can follow along with his presentation, which is some 34-minutes in length, by downloading his slides in PDF format [3.64MB].

Previous Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar Presentations

Times Article Viewed: 8132
Published: 23-Oct-2008


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