Planning As If Children Mattered: A Case for Transforming Automobile Dependent Cities and Some Examples of Best Practice

The automobile with its accompanying urban sprawl, roads and parking has changed cities dramatically in the last century from places where walking, cycling and public transport were the dominant or even only modes of transport. While the automobile can be a good servant it is a very bad master and has led to a host of environmental, economic and social problems for cities. One of the casualties of automobile dependence is the independent mobility of children and other vulnerable populations in cities, such as the elderly and those with disabilities. This paper shows the extent of these problems and many of the fallacies that lie behind the idea that the car-based model of urban development has uniformly led to a better quality of life for everybody. It is presented in three parts. The first part provides a brief review of the problems of automobile dependence and the differences in this dependence between American, Australian, Canadian, European and wealthy Asian cities (Singapore and Hong Kong). The second part considers some of the primary ways in which the character and qualities of cities can impact on the ability of cities to meet the mobility and other needs of people, especially children. It particularly tackles the question of density. It shows how assumptions about the benefits of low density and the negatives of high density have been overstated and how children have become a key casualty in this planning and policy-driven fallacy, which has helped drive cities towards greater automobile dependence. The third part of the paper shows how unnecessary it is to continue along such paths by showing some best practice examples from around the world of cities that have ensured a better balance of transport modes and a much fairer and just system of land use and transport planning for children and other vulnerable populations, often making up about 50% of urban populations. Zurich, Vancouver, Freiburg im Breisgau, Portland, Munich, Stockholm and Seoul are examined, as well as the somewhat unifying concept of traffic calming. Conclusions are drawn about the key things cities need to do to avoid the problems of automobile dependence and to begin to transform themselves into places that better meet everyone’s needs and which contribute to environmental, social and economic improvement.


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  • Accession Number: 01682730
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 4 2018 2:51PM