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Transportation energy in global cities: sustainable transportation comes in from the cold?

Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. (2001) Transportation energy in global cities: sustainable transportation comes in from the cold? Natural Resources Forum, 25 (2). pp. 91-107.

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The energy, environmental and social benefits of sustainable transportation, i.e. public transit, biking and walking, have long been recognized but are now mainstream in global and local transportation policy debates. However, the economic value of sustainable transportation has always been seen as secondary, unless many external costs were included. The results of a new global study show that cities with significant sustainable transportation systems have reduced costs on road construction and maintenance; better operating cost recovery and fuel-efficiency; fewer road accidents and less air pollution. In overall terms, the percentage of city funds going to transportation is reduced. The data show that cities with the most roads have the highest transportation costs and the most rail-oriented cities have the lowest. Further, the most sprawling cities have the highest direct and indirect costs for transportation. Thus, strategies to contain sprawl, to reurbanize, to build new rail systems into car-dependent suburbs with focussed sub-centers, and to facilitate biking and walking, not only will improve energy efficiency but will reduce costs to the economy of a city. Strategies that build freeways and add to sprawl will do the opposite. Trends indicate that moves toward sustainable urban patterns are beginning. The need to operationalize sustainable transportation strategies in planning and engineering practice and in the politics of infrastructure funding remains a major challenge. Some cities are showing how this can be done.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
Publisher: Butterworth Scientific Ltd.
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