This is a critical time for planning with a lot of opportunity to figure out an entirely new way of making cities. The policies of the last 70 years have led to unsustainable sprawl, a development pattern that reduces physical activity, a transportation system that creates dependency on the private automobile, and a city form that is not prepared to meet our urgent climate change challenges. And now, the introduction of autonomous vehicles presents a challenge equal to that of the original introduction of the private automobile in terms of the future shape and function and sustainability of our cities. These are big issues and planners can be key players in forging a new direction. With likely little direction on climate change issues from the national government, we will be increasingly turning toward cities for innovation and solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.
My own work explores the relationship of urban form to active modes of transportation (walking and biking), the role of higher education in catalyzing societal change, and anything else that might help us get to where we need to more quickly. Please have a look at the classes I teach, research I engage in, and campus organizations I co-lead for more context on my part for bringing about change.
There are four big things I’d like to draw your attention to:
- Rethinking Streets in an Era of Driverless Vehicles – This 2018 report lays out how driverless vehicles are likely to free up space on our streets in a variety of ways and what cities can begin doing to reclaim that space for better uses than the movement and storage of vehicles.
- Rethinking Streets: An Evidence-Based Guide to 25 Complete Street Transformations – This 2015 case study book of completed street retrofits is a very visually accessible reference to help cities get better transportation and economic performance out of their streets. It’s been downloaded over 5,000 times from over 25 countries and it’s FREE, so you can too! I am currently working a follow-up version that is focused on street retrofits that created excellent biking opportunities, due to be finished by December.
- Urbanism Next – Have you wondered how driverless vehicles, e-commerce, and the sharing economy might impact how and where we live? Did you know that 2/3 of US households have an Amazon Prime account and wonder what that means for the corner store? What if driverless car-sharing companies like Lyft become the norm – what will we do with the 90% of parking spaces that might not ever be needed again? How will cities finance themselves when there are no more parking revenue, speeding tickets, or gas taxes to collect? Very interesting stuff and extremely time critical, so follow along and engage. Urbanism Next is a primary research initiative by the Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI), an applied think-tank on sustainability and cities at the University of Oregon.
- EPIC-N – Universities can play a much bigger role in helping communities address critical environmental, economic, and social goals and the EPIC model is an innovative way to make that happen. What began as an innovative university-community partnership program at the UO in 2009 has now spawned over 30 other iterations at universities across the US and internationally. EPIC-N is a global spin off from the UO’s Sustainable City Year Program by the Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI), an applied think-tank on sustainability and cities at the University of Oregon.
A couple other relate entities for the sustainable transportation minded in PPPM:
- NITC is a national university transportation center that is a leader at the intersection of transportation and livability and supports faculty and student research at the University of Oregon.
- LiveMove is an incredibly active student organization around issues of transportation, livability and sustainable city design.
On the fun side, the department often has a few ultimate frisbee teams open to all levels of players; here is a how-to manual on playing the friendly game that I created when I first moved to Oregon and learned the sport.