Friday, July 30, 2010

You Can't Always Get What You Want . . . Luckily!

Preston Schiller contacted me a little over a year ago to incorporate some of my work on Interstate 5 construction through Bellingham, Washington, into his book-in-progress. Preston had come across my article on this topic soon after it was published. In 2004-2005 when I was living in Bellingham, he had asked me to speak to one of his classes at Western Washington University on this subject, and a few months later I accompanied another of his classes on a public transportation field trip to Vancouver, B.C.

I felt honored that Preston offered the invitation to contribute to this book, and am now pleased to announce the book's recent publication:
The vignette about the history of I-5 through Bellingham is on page 71. The narrative is titled "How Interstate 5 Came To Bellingham: You Can't Always Get What You Want--Luckily!" I composed the basic narrative and then Preston and I collaborated on the final draft.

The key point of the story, as I write in my article and that Preston and I sought to highlight in the vignette, is that Bellingham residents circa 2000 were fortunate that their circa 1955 predecessors did not get what they wanted when it came to the location of Interstate 5. Bellingham's current residents enjoy waterfront views and access, and are now revitalizing former waterfront industrial areas, because city leaders in the 1940s and 1950s were not able to convince state highway officials to bulldoze these areas and build the freeway.

Beginning in the late 1940s, many communities faced difficult decisions about where to locate limited-access highways. Some communities built these highways at the outskirts of town, while others engaged in large-scale neighborhood destruction and environmental modification. Bellingham is an example of the former, because even though the freeway route did cut-through some lower-density residential areas, it did not require destruction and community upheaval on the scale of Interstate 5 construction through Portland, Oregon, or interstate highway projects in Miami, Nashville, Chicago, and other areas (link).

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct is an example of a project that fits the pattern of large-scale neighborhood destruction and environmental modification. The result in this case is that Seattleites currently have only limited access to their waterfront, and the viaduct is certainly not an aesthetically-pleasing complement to the striking views of the Puget Sound.

San Francisco's failed freeway projects and Portland, Oregon's failed Mt. Hood Freeway are a few examples of communities deciding against exchanging neighborhoods for expanded auto infrastructure.

For more information about the entire book, here's the blurb from the publisher's website:

    Transportation plays a substantial role in the modern world; it provides tremendous benefits to society, but it also imposes significant economic, social and environmental costs. Sustainable transport planning requires integrating environmental, social, and economic factors in order to develop optimal solutions to our many pressing issues, especially carbon emissions and climate change.
    This essential multi-authored work reflects a new sustainable transportation planning paradigm. It explores the concepts of sustainable development and sustainable transportation, describes practical techniques for comprehensive evaluation, provides tools for multi-modal transport planning, and presents innovative mobility management solutions to transportation problems. Students of various disciplines, planners, policymakers and concerned citizens will find many of its provocative ideas and approaches of considerable value as they engage in the processes of understanding and changing transportation towards greater sustainability.
    This text reflects a fundamental change in transportation decision making. It focuses on accessibility rather than mobility, emphasizes the need to expand the range of options and impacts considered in analysis, and provides practical tools to allow planners, policy makers and the general public to determine the best solution to the transportation problems facing a community.
    The book starts by placing transportation within the broader sustainability discussion, emphasising a comprehensive approach to sustainability planning and introducing the notion of "regenerative transportation". In sections on policymaking and planning the book examines how decisions are currently, and how they should be, made - explaining the complex and often misunderstood area of public participation. The authors explain demand management as applied to transportation and present lessons from other public arenas and areas of application, especially in urban-suburban areas.
    The text takes readers through each and every mode of transport, beginning with human-powered modes and ending in motorized modes, including marine and air transport. The modes are analyzed separately and in comparison with others according to several criteria: Capacity/utility/functionality considerations; infrastructure demands; resource consumption; land use considerations; pollution; and costs. In ways that non-technically trained readers as well as planning students professionals can find useful the book includes guidance on how to optimize transportation systems; balancing economic, social and environmental objectives while creating just, robust, and diverse, rather than one-size-fits-all, solutions. The modes are grouped and compared within their respective contexts, and there is vital discussion and differentiation between passenger and freight-goods transport. The final section develops a comprehensive summary of the previous chapters and develops arguments for sustainable transportation policymaking and integrated planning, providing international examples and case studies and extracting from them general applications for integrated sustainable transportation. Featuring extensive international examples and case-studies, textboxes, graphics, recommended reading and end of chapter questions, the authors draw on considerable teaching and researching experience to present an essential, ground-breaking and authoritative text on sustainable transport.


1 comment:

  1. earthscan earthcasts Event Information: Sustainable Transport Policy

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 9:00 am
    Pacific Daylight Time

    Join the authors of An Introduction to Sustainable Transportation and Transport for Suburbia for an event that explores the problems that sustainability poses for transport planners and innovative solutions from around the world. Preston L. Schiller and Paul Mees will present the latest thinking on transport policy from global, regional and local perspectives.

    ** Discover the cultural, historical and political challenges to creating sustainable transport systems

    ** Explore different policies that work at local, regional and national levels

    ** Learn about successful and unsuccessful solutions from cities across the world