What Brings Sustainable Transport in Urban Centers?

Urban centers both here in the U.S. and abroad are often densely populated.  Naturally, therefore, such areas may be a huge source of carbon dioxide emissions from all kinds of sources, but a principal one is transportation due to the consumption of fossil fuels from driving, taking a taxi, or even riding on a bus that may not be eco-friendly.  Yet, many cities at least in the U.S. and to a lesser extent around the world are far from sustainable when it comes to green transportation.

As a result of the lack of a sustainable transport system in many urban centers, the University of Leeds, Manchester, and York "are conducting a major new study that could help planners make urban travel networks more sustainable by the year 2050.  The STEP-CHANGE project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), aims to inform a 'step-change' in attitudes to urban transport by revolutionising the planning of towns and cities."  This project being undertaken by these three British universities is not only useful in the UK but it is also useful abroad in terms of assisting policymakers of all stripes about how to properly plan and develop sustainable urban transport centers.

Right now, the U.S., in particular, is a carbon based society that relies heavily on dirty fossil fuels for transportation.  As a result, urban areas where many individuals live are often congested and have pollution problems unnecessarily, namely with carbon dioxide emissions.  Such a study that looks at how to develop sustainable towns, cities, and other venues is essential to helping policy-makers go from debate and discussion to one of actually adopting and enacting concrete policies that actually promote sustainable transport.

To truly develop sustainable transport cities, a "Step-Change" type program is clearly necessary in terms of looking at public attitudes about public transport, because before it can be enacted, concerns regarding how it will work need to be addressed.  Looking at public behaviors with respect to transportation is essential in terms of determining whether a specific sustainable transport policy will work or not.  For example, if the public believes that sustainable transport should involve a community-city interaction where one's home is within walking distance of everything they need, then urban planners should adjust accordingly to such attitudes.  The study done by these three universities, therefore, is important in terms of establishing a clear idea as to what it takes to bring sustainable transport to urban centers.  Right now, it is amorphous and unclear and any research findings through this study from Leeds, Manchester, and York universities will go a long way toward answering that question of what is needed to bring sustainable transport to urban areas.

Photo Credit:  alykat