Planning History

Changing Lanes

Joseph F. DiMento and Cliff Ellis

Few planning decisions have affected American cities as much as those involving urban freeways. Massive freeway infrastructure projects have reconfigured urban form, supplanted neighborhoods, displaced tens of thousands of people, and cost billions of dollars. Congress and state legislatures passed important new laws that guided where freeways could be built, what funds were available, which types of consultation and analysis should be conducted, and what impacts were permissible. Lawmakers and courts required that projects be planned and completed with maximum sensitivity to the environment, with concern for relocating displaced residents, and with active citizen participation.

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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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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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Paved with Good Intentions: Fiscal Politics, Freeways and the 20th Century American City

Jeffrey R. Brown, Eric A. Morris, and Brian D. Taylor

Stuck in traffic in Washington, DC in 1959, President Eisenhower was shocked to learn that the delay was being caused by Interstate Highway construction. Surely the Interstates were being built between cities, not in them. The President demanded to know who was responsible for this state of affairs, only to be told that he was; it was the result of legislation he had signed three years earlier. Aghast, Eisenhower attempted to get the federal government out of the urban freeway business. But it was too late: the program had built up momentum that not even he could halt.

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Moving Forward With Fuel Economy Standards

Lee Schipper

In the early 1970s, the American Petroleum Institute had a slogan: “A nation that runs on oil can’t afford to run short.” Yet at the beginning of 1973, the US relied on oil for 46 percent of its energy supply, of which 32 percent was imported. Today we import about two thirds of the oil we consume. The price of crude oil in early 1973 was around $3 a barrel, and gasoline cost 39 cents a gallon. In 2009 dollars, those figures are close to $15 a barrel and $1.85 a gallon. Crude oil prices in early 2009 were still almost three times higher than in 1973. However, the fuel cost for driving a mile is less today than in 1973, because cars are more fuel-efficient and it takes thirty percent less fuel to go a distance today than in 1973.

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2018-02-07T23:17:15+00:00Categories: ACCESS 34, Spring 2009|Tags: , |

Introduction: Mel Webber (1920–2006)

Melanie Curry

With this issue, the University of California Transportation Center marks the fifteenth year of publishing ACCESS magazine. However, our celebration is tinged with sadness, because the founder and editor of ACCESS is no longer with us: Melvin M. Webber passed away on November 25, 2006. We miss him.

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A Legacy of Skepticism: Remembering Melvin Webber

Martin Wachs

A month before his passing I had the pleasure of meeting Mel Webber for lunch, as I had done many times before, at his favorite table in the corner of the bar at the Faculty Club on the Berkeley campus. Over his left shoulder was the large window through which the landmark campanile clock was clearly visible in the bright blue sky over the deep green of the trees that line Strawberry Creek. Mel was like no other person I knew well. After decades of warm friendship he still surprised me at every meeting by asking questions I never anticipated. This visit was no different. He took out a small notebook and a worn, stubby pencil, and placed them on the table. He ordered a modest, healthful lunch and when the waiter departed he leaned forward and in a voice made husky by his illness he asked me to tell him what he had contributed to the world. His life was ending, he said in a tone not so different than the one he used when he had ordered his sandwich, and he wanted to know how his friends would remember him. He picked up the pencil, opened the notebook to a blank page, and awaited my reply. Overwhelmed by the question and thoroughly intimidated by the realization that it was deeply important to a man who had given me so much, I did my best to reply sincerely.

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2017-05-30T22:05:28+00:00Categories: ACCESS Special Issue, Winter 2006-2007|Tags: |

Flexible Transit, the American City, and Mel Webber

Robert Cervero

Melvin Webber was one of the original “bus guys” in the transportation planning field. He was one of the few to show respect for that Rodney Dangerfield of public transportation, the one that gets very little respect: the rubber-tire bus. But Mel’s vision of public transit was not stodgy old buses lumbering along city streets. He had in mind a more nimble, versatile form of transit—one that could compete with, and sometimes even mimic, the private car.

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Melvin M. Webber: Maker and Breaker of Planning Paradigms

Sir Peter Hall

Melvin M. Webber died two days after Thanksgiving in the Berkeley home where he and his wife Carolyn had lived peaceably for nearly half a century; they would soon have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, but at the age of 86 his multiple myeloma cheated them of their festival. With him passed an era in the history of Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning, where he had spent nearly all his long academic life and to whose international pre-eminence he had so profoundly contributed.

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