September 20, 2011

Our Cities Ourselves: Eight Principles for Transport in Urban Life

Cyclists in Hangzhou, China. Photo: ITDP
Cyclists in Hangzhou, China. Photo: ITDP

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has developed eight principles designed to create more sustainable cities that produce less carbon emissions.

Our Cities Ourselves: 8 Principles for Transport in Urban Life  shows how cities from New York to Nairobi can meet the challenges of rapid population growth and climate change while improving their competitiveness. The purpose of these principles and the Our Cities Ourselves exhibition is to reframe the issue of transport so that it is no longer seen as separate from, but rather integral to, urban design.

What are the eight principles of sustainable transport?

  1. WALK: Develop neighborhoods that promote walking
    • Shorten street crossings
    • Emphasize pedestrian safety and convenience
    • Encourage ground-level activity and create places to relax
  2. CYCLE: Prioritize cycle networks
    • Design streets that emphasize cycle safety and convenience
    • Provide secure parking for public and private cycles
  3. CONNECT: Create dense networks of streets and paths
    • Create dense public street and path networks that are highly permeable to pedestrians, bicycles and transit
    • Create auto-free streets, alleys, and greenways to encourage non-motorized travel
  4. TRANSPORT: Support high quality public transport
    • Ensure frequent, fast and direct transit service
    • Establish at least one high capacity, high speed transit corridor with dedicated transit lines within walking distance for 80 per cent of the population
    • Locate transit stations, homes, jobs and services within walking distance of each other
  5. MIX: Plan for mixed use
    • Plan for an optimal balance of housing, commerce, incomes and services
    • Provide a variety of accessible parks and open spaces
  6. DENSIFY: Match density and transit capacity
    • Match density to the capacity of a transit system
    • Maximize transit systems capacity to planned capacity
  7. COMPACT: Create compact regions with short commutes
    • Reduce sprawl by focusing development in areas adjacent to and within existing developments
    • Co-locate jobs and housing within short commuting distances
  8. SHIFT: Increase mobility by regulating parking and road use
    • Limit parking to discourage driving during peak traffic periods
    • Adjust car use fees by time of day and destination

Cities face massive population growth, particularly in the developing world. By 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population, or 5 billion people, will live in cities. The transportation sector currently accounts for around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, a growing proportion derived largely from cars and trucks. (Source: International Transport Forum)

Some cities are waking up to this reality, and changing direction. The “Our Cities Ourselves: 8 Principles for Transport in Urban Life” exhibitions showcase examples of cities reaping the benefits of integrating urban planning and design that gives priority to pedestrians and transit. It is a guide for cities and countries that want to make their cities more competitive and livable, while helping to solve the problem of climate change.

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