Monday, February 2, 2009

Slowing down – A challenge
- Australian perspectives on sustainable transportation

Slowing down – A challenge

Slower speed influences most other strategies that aim to be safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable.

The USA led the world in encouraging faster car travel with interstates and urban freeways speeding trips with apparent benefits for trucks and buses i.e. freight, human or otherwise.

• Did the USA not foresee the "induced" effects?

• The USA led the world in consumer marketing aka making a product or service more desirable to increase sales. But not travel by car?

• The USA apparently led in inducing increased use of cars ... and trucks and buses ... and then aircraft for longer regional trips. Why?

• It led building more road capacity including projects said to "reduce congestion" ... a concept still "recycled" by proponents of major road projects worldwide. Why?

• Did any projects reduce congestion? Did most induce traffic?

The USA also demonstrated the efficiency of urban and long (passenger and freight) rail journeys.

• These were not seen as efficient or fast enough. Why?

• Has the USA forgotten it showed us slower traffic is safer and more fuel efficient?

• Remember those stats from the 1970s oil shortages? Speeds were reduced - and fuel consumption reduced and numbers of people killed or seriously injured. Speed limits were again increased - fuel use increased and fatalities and injuries. Why?

• Did the USA assume considering consequences irrational to economic growth and international influence?

• What if the Obama administration implemented a national commitment to slower travel and safe walking and cycling? Would people change travel patterns?

• Could the Obama administration then spend more road funds on improving public transport, walking and/or cycling?

• Why not?

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Michael Yeates,
Public Transport Alliance
Brisbane Australia

Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

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