Civilising Cities: the Contribution of Transport and Land Use Policies
JONES P and WALKER H, University of Westminster, UK
The paper reports on the first phase of a major initiative to implement a set of Pilot Projects that demonstrate how transport and land use policies - in conjunction with inputs from other policy sectors, where appropriate - can contribute to improving th
The paper reports on the first phase of a major initiative to implement a set of Pilot Projects that demonstrate how transport and land use policies - in conjunction with inputs from other policy sectors, where appropriate - can contribute to improving the quality of life in cities, in the broadest sense. The study was funded by the RAC Foundation for Motoring and the Environment, in partnership with the Civic Trust and the CSS, and has brought together two major research groups within the University of Westminster, with an interest in transport and sustainability issues.
Several strands of the current policy debate are leading to a growing recognition of the importance of taking action to improve urban quality of life, both for the benefit of the large majority of the population who already live in urban areas, and as part of a strategy to protect rural areas from pressures for further major development. The current debate on where to locate the additional 4.4 million homes is but one of many issues that is increasing pressure to tackle the negative aspects of urban living. There is a need for the many agencies and organisations with an urban remit to work more closely together, and to do so in the context of a shared vision of how city life can be improved in the future.
One of the major factors threatening quality of life in urban areas is associated with transport. Road traffic often dominates large parts of the city, intruding on urban life through excessive noise and air pollution, making access on foot difficult and being a major cause of death and injury; it is an important negative factor encouraging people to move out of the city. Yet these environmental and social costs are not in the main compensated by the benefits of an efficient transport system: traffic congestion often makes road journeys slow and unreliable, and in turn encourages businesses to move out of the city. The vitality of cities is under threat from a combination of poor environment and poor access.
Thus, efforts to reduce the negative impacts of traffic, coupled with real improvements in urban accessibility are likely to form an important component of efforts to civilise our cities. This aim is likely to be realised through an appropriate combination of more sustainable transport provision coupled with land use policies that reduce the need to travel and increase transport choice. That is why transport and land use lie at the core of this initiative - while recognising the importance of forming alliances with other sectors, such as health and social services.
This initiative goes beyond what has been attempted before in several important respects. First, it looks at the contribution that transport and land use measures can make to improving all aspects of urban life, not simply those relating to traditional transport objectives. Second, it is concerned with all geographical parts of an urban area (suburbs, radial corridors, inner city areas, etc) and not just with the town and city centres - where much of the previous effort has been concentrated. Third, it is intended very much to be a practical exercise, demonstrating what can achieved on the ground and could be replicated in similar areas elsewhere.
Association for European Transport