Putting transportation and urban planning on the same sustainable page
Is it really possible that urban planners and transportation planners aren’t very much in sync when they do their planning things?
Apparently so, although it’s a situation that’s changing, according to a new book from Jeffrey Tumlin, Sustainable Transportation Planning, published this month by John Wiley & Sons.
“Transportation must be seen as inseparable from land use planning or economic development – indeed, the best transportation plan is a good land use plan,” he says.
Early on in the book, he makes this salient and telling point: “City planners and urban designers are often in conflict with transportation professionals.” Of course his statement is true if reversed, but he adds that for a long time “transportation professionals may have barely noticed the planners.”
Transportation planning and engineering professionals, Tumlin continues, “are currently the most significant obstacles to sustainable urbanism in North America, Australia and other growing regions around the world.”
His book aims to correct that and “reunite” transportation with its related fields “to fill the largest remaining gap in urban sustainability strategies.” It is intended to:
- Help non-transportation professionals understand transportation practice “so that they can more effectively guide it.”
- Provide step-by-step instructions for implementing smart transportation concepts in communities.
- Offer (for students) an overview of where transportation fits in the study of urbanism, and for transportation professionals, “a better understanding of where our discipline fits in the larger context of sustainable urbanism.”
Tumlin is an owner and sustainability practice leader of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, a San Francisco transportation planning and engineering firm that focuses on sustainable mobility.
His book provides ideas, case studies, tools and solutions for citizens, elected officials, transportation engineers, urban planners, bicyclists and more. He looks at how smart transportation investments improve economic development, health, sustainability and quality of life.
The book is full of useful ideas throughout. For instance, the chapter on pedestrians says that planners should “make sure buildings are a pleasure to walk past.” And here’s a twist: “Design streets with pedestrians in mind,” and “promote safe routes to schools.” As Tumlin says, “streets are the life of a city.”
Sustainability is especially important now “when we can no longer afford to throw away money to postpone solving the systemic problems with our public infrastructure, public health, and economic opportunities.” Actually, sustainability “works best when you don’t call it ‘sustainability,’” he notes.
Transportation planning and urban planning, mobility and accessibility don’t have to be mutually exclusive anymore, and Tumlin’s book is a good place to learn about sustainable transportation planning.
It’s a comprehensive, entertaining and profusely illustrated guide to “creating vibrant, healthy and resilient communities.”