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Regional & International Development

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  • EagleBridge

Investing in Transportation and Preserving Fragile Environments

Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman

In the early 1970s, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) owned large tracts of environmentally sensitive land near Beach Lake in the Sacramento River Valley. The land, acquired in anticipation of future projects but deemed no longer necessary, was to be declared surplus property and sold according to department protocol. One enterprising staff member, however, was thinking differently. He urged Caltrans to hold on to the land and use it for environmental mitigation credit to offset damage from future transportation projects in other areas. In an unusual move, the agency adopted his creative proposal, and the experiment paid off handsomely. In the following decades, the land fulfilled mitigation requirements for 49 separate projects in 14 counties with documented cost savings to Caltrans of over $25 million.

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  • BigBox-Target-1

The First Big-Box Store in Davis

Susan L. Handy, Kristin Lovejoy, Gian-Claudia Sciara, Deborah Salon, and Patricia Mokhtarian

Davis, California, is well-known in transportation circles for having the highest share of bicycle commuters in the US, due in large part to pioneering efforts starting in the 1960s that created an extensive bicycling network. Less well-known is the substantial effort Davis has made to avert the kind of sprawl found in most US cities. Multi-family housing is distributed throughout the city, neighborhood shopping centers are within a short bike ride for most residents, and the city has improved sidewalks, landscaping, and public spaces to promote its traditional downtown. Davis restricts development beyond the current urban boundary while at the same time encouraging infill development within the boundary. As a result, Davis is the sixth densest urbanized area in the US and an exemplar of what small cities can achieve with coordinated policies and careful planning.

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  • Figure 1 Plan of whole town, with roads and land uses

Can We Have Sustainable Transportation without Making People Drive Less or Giving up Suburban Living?

Mark Delucchi

City planners, transportation analysts, and policymakers have struggled to reconcile the promises and problems created by suburban land use and automobiles. On the one hand, automobile use and suburban living are widely and highly valued; as people become wealthier, they tend to buy cars and live in bigger homes farther away from central cities. Many urban planners, however, blame automobiles and automobile-driven sprawl for a wide range of problems, including climate change, road fatalities and injuries, rising traffic congestion, ugly urban form, oil dependency, and increasing social fragmentation. Most approaches to these problems focus on curtailing automobile use and its impacts. Outside of densely populated cities, however, it is hard to reduce personal automobile use.
  • Will1

Will China’s Vehicle Population Grow Even Faster than Forecasted?

Yunshi Wang, Jacob Teter and Daniel Sperling

In 2010, China surpassed the US and all other countries in vehicle sales, and will no doubt retain its number one ranking for decades. But how big will China’s vehicle market become? The answer is of great importance for the entire world. Rapid Chinese motorization has alarming implications for both the environment and global energy resources. China is already the world’s largest CO2 emitter and second-largest oil importer. Yet its vehicle ownership rates are still a fraction of those in the US—58 vehicles per 1,000 persons in 2010 compared to 804 per 1,000 in the US. Download the PDF.
  • Defeat 1

The Defeat of the Golden Gate Authority: Regional Planning and Local Power

Louise Nelson Dyble

The most ambitious proposal for transportation planning ever considered for the San Francisco Bay Area—the Golden Gate Authority—went down in defeat in 1962, bringing serious efforts for regional government to an end. Authority advocates touted its potential to promote prosperity, provide employment, and relieve congestion, promises that appealed to many Bay Area leaders and interest groups. However, the prospect of a powerful new transportation authority also garnered strong opposition.

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  • World 7

Worldwide Bikesharing

Susan Shaheen and Stacey Guzman

Bikesharing has evolved greatly since the first program was launched in the Netherlands in the mid-1960s. As of May 2011, there were an estimated 136 bikesharing programs in 165 cities around the world, with 237,000 bikes on the streets. In the Americas, bikesharing activity has spread to Canada, Mexico, the US, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Asia, which represents the fastest-growing bikesharing market today, has programs in China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

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  • Electric Image 1

Electric Two-Wheelers in China: Promise, Progress and Potential

Christopher Cherry

Electric two-wheelers have transformed the way people move in most Chinese cities. In just ten years, growth in electric two-wheelers—a category that includes vehicles ranging from electric bicycles to electric motorcycles—has substantially increased the total number of vehicles in China. Electric bike sales began modestly in the 1990s and started to take off in 2004, when 40,000 were sold. Since then, over 100 million have been sold and now more than 20 million are sold each year. Electric two wheelers, in short, represent the first mass-produced and mass-adopted alternative-fuel vehicles in the history of motorization.

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  • Mega 1

Megacities and Megatraffic

Mark Kutzbach

Scan the newspaper in any big city of a rapidly developing country and you will probably see complaints about traffic congestion. Traffic congestion in developing megacities not only aggravates commuters but also isolates them with time-consuming, unreliable, and expensive commutes. In Mumbai, India, for example, The Mumbai Mirror reported in early 2010 that India's champion athletes missed the closing ceremony of the South Asian Games due to the city's "never-ending traffic jam."

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  • Restricting 1

Restricting New Infrastructure: Bad for Business in California?

Karen Chapple and Carrie Makarewicz

Planners throughout California are preparing to implement SB 375, a law that requires metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to consider the impact of land use decisions on climate change, and requires that future planning decisions reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among other provisions, the bill encourages municipalities and developers to concentrate infrastructure and development in urban areas or close to public transit hubs in order to reduce vehicle use. The bill also includes a number of provisions to better coordinate the provision of housing and transportation infrastructure. SB 375 could have profound effects on California’s cities. If MPOs and local governments change their housing, transportation, and land use plans in response to the law, then infrastructure funds, private investment, and housing will likely be steered into more compact patterns, and development will occur primarily in places where it already exists.

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  • 1. Table of contents

Introduction

Elizabeth Deakin

Transportation planners and engineers often focus on specific areas of expertise, such as particular modes of transport, or air quality effects of transportation. Increasingly, however, Californians are reminded that such focused specializations, while valuable, are insufficient by themselves. Current efforts to meet stringent greenhouse gas reduction targets while accommodating growth and counteracting economic downturn show just how complex and interconnected urban development issues are. The emerging paradigm is one that integrates transportation planning into a broader metropolitan development strategy.

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