Toward Sustainable Mobility in Cities: A Case for New Spatial Decision Support Methods in Urban Planning
Paper in proceedings, 2009
This paper focuses on the role of transportation in cities and examines the many means used to evaluate and plan for efficient mobility. Balancing efficiency with better quality of life is all the more difficult as urban centers now support the majority of the world’s population.
Manuel Castells (Re: M. Castells: The Information Age, Oxford 1998) suggests that the world is no longer hierarchically organized or territorially arranged, but functions on a new ''borderless'' network of economy and society. This reality has not been fully brought down to the city scale in terms of how day-to-day planning is undertaken. There are multiple constraints imposed by “hidden” dimensions of economic, cultural, social, political, legal, and moral and other environments that are equally important as the physical constraints imposed by the objective environment.
The complex processes of economic, technological and social change, globalization and internationalization of the cities has a dramatic impact on the quality of human settlement (Re: Reginald G. Golledge, Robert J. Stimson: Spatial Behavior, New York 1997). Any policy aimed at mitigating the effects of such conflicting interests must therefore include mobility. This has obvious impacts on climate change as well.
It is fair to say that for sustainable mobility we need new management and planning tools to better define appropriate measures and policies. Despite best efforts many transport and land use policies implemented at the local level have not helped to improve conditions.
In addition to the traditional concerns of combating sprawl, congestion, and pollution we need to rethink our carbon footprints and the settlement impacts of a contracting global economy that is sure to change the very paradigm in which we plan. If traditional methods (and their underlying assumptions) are becoming increasingly suspect, it is clear we need not only to consider new ways to define the problems we face but also seek better ways to solve them.
Current modeling techniques seem inadequate to address this rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment. Traditional transportation models continue to struggle with capturing how that particular environment will react to changes. To stay relevant in a changing paradigm, models need to consider new modes of movement that often involve uncertain assumptions. Planners must not only consider community characteristics, environmental impacts, but also consider spatial behavior itself (Re: Reginald G. Golledge, Robert J. Stimson: Spatial Behavior, New York 1997).
The point here is that traditional transportation planning methods will need to change to keep up with profound changes in the culture and economy of cities. There are many emerging developments in urban planning that suggest interesting methodologies, travel patterns, demand estimation and forecasting (Re: Ian Bracken: Urban Planning Methods, 2007).
This paper underscores the increasing need for policy makers to understand that relevant decision making process require better methods of urban research and coordinated strategic actions.
spatial decision support methods