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Mobility for a Sustainable City

By EV World Video

Three-part video interview with sustainable urban designer Michael von Hausen, author of 'Dynamic Urban Design: A Handbook for Creating Sustainable Communities Worldwide,' on the art of designing car-free cities.

Canadian Michael von Hausen has just been handed the challenge of a lifetime, design an entire sustainable city for 1.1 million inhabitants. Situated north of Guangzhou, itself a gigantic megacity of 20 million, the new city, an aerial illustration of which is depicted in the above masthead image on EV World, as well as below, will bring urban design full circle back to where it was before the automobile.

The goal of von Hausen's MVH Urban Planning & Design Inc., and his Chinese partners, is to turn the current urban mobility pyramid on its head, placing pedestrians at the top and personal automobiles at the bottom. Rather than designing the new city to improve automobile traffic flow, which was the mistake Le Corbusier and his urban planning acolytes in the 20th century made, it is being designed around the people who will live and work there.

'Live and work' is the key to concept behind the plan, as von Hausen explains in this 42-minute video dialogue with EV World's Bill Moore. The goal isn't just to improve air and water quality, but to re-invigorate the social function of a city by, for example, reducing the need for a personal automobile and its related expenses, among other actions, conceivably allowing at least one parent in the family to be able to stay at home or work near by.

Von Hausen, who is originally from Ottawa, but has practiced for the last 30 years urban planning and design around the world from Vancouver, B.C. - his daily commute is to his loft office in his home - envisions future cities, as well as suburbia, where everyone is less car-dependent, where public transit -- he likes Bus Rapid Transit systems a lot, but isn't opposed to streetcar/trams -- operates on a dependable and frequent schedule.

In his view sustainable mobility starts first with the pedestrian, making the places they most often go and things they most often need, within walking distance of where they live. Next he sees transit systems as second in priority followed by cycling, then delivery vehicles that bring in the supplies that the city needs: food, clothing, material items. Finally, at the bottom of his mobility priority pyramid is the single occupant automobile.

Be sure to watch all three segments and find out why he agrees with other urban planning visionaries that 'congestion is our friend.'

Artist's vision of future new sustainable city outside of Guangzhou, China.

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Times Article Viewed: 5739
Originally published: 09 Aug 2013

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