Sustainable transport planning
- How are cities decoupling the use of energy and transport and overall growth?
- Discuss attempts of city-wide/neighbourhood level interventions of sustainable transportation
So Sustainable Transport – Is the world winning? I was on the committee – the Transport Committee of the IPCC that produced this report and our target was to see how the world is doing, particularly on transport and achieving 80% less CO2 by 2050.
Now that’s a very big call and you won’t find a great deal of hope coming out of this report because it has to look back and get the trends. And the trends look as though we’re going to have a lot more Katrinas happening – that the cities of the world are going to be facing all kinds of climate disaster.
When you look at the the growth in petroleum and coal use, the total CO2 seems to be out of control. Added to that, we have the growth of China which is now the biggest Greenhouse Gas producer and India where both of them seem to be runaway and the potential to make the global task impossible.
So we are left with a sense of despair and there’s a lot of people in the world feel – we’re not going to make it. Now I want to show you a different story, because I believe the world is beginning to win on Greenhouse Gas mitigation mainly because we’ve learned how to decouple wealth and the growth in wealth from fossil fuel growth.
The whole approach to this, the theory of decoupling is now well developed and many places in the world, the developing world, developed world in particular are decoupling.
So this is the Netherlands showing its growth in wealth but continuing decline in the footprint in various environmental areas including the climate change gases. Now the thing that is really impressive is that China is already decoupling from coal and now from oil.
We’ve heard a lot about how the coal-fired power stations are closing down, but it’s also decoupling from the transport-based oil, and that story needs to be told.
In the same way India is beginning to decouple its GDP from fossil fuels in both coal and oil. We collect data on cities, we write books about it, we’ve been doing it for a long time.
In 1989, we defined automobile dependence, then in 1999 we looked at how you overcome it and with lots of stories beginning of how cities were doing it and the kind of data we produce on a hundred cities is shown here. Now if you look at the black cities on the left of the diagram, you’ve got Atlanta with a 108 gigajoules(GJ) per person of transport fuel and the American cities always win on this race, then come the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand cities down around the 30s and 40s. The European cities around 20 or less.
Where the arrow is pointing is Barcelona- it has 8 GJ per capita, 8 compared to a 108 in Atlanta. Now these cities are not very different in wealth. Barcelona is a very popular, very attractive city and yet massive difference in the amount of transport fuel. It’s very encouraging if you see you don’t have to have high amounts of fuel if you want to improve the wealth and liveability of a city. Now if you look to the right of that, these are the developing, emerging cities from China and India and Latin America and so on and Africa – they have usually around 2 gigajoules per capita, they are tiny.
Now how you relate that? We do all kinds of data on infrastructure in town but Land-Use is critical. This is the density of the cities, you see on the right the low-density cities of America, Atlanta is six people per hectare, New York is around the 20 mark, the European cities around the 50 mark, then you come to the emerging cities which are 200 to 300 people per hectare and Barcelona is 200 people per hectare- it’s a very dense city, it’s not high rise city but it’s dense and that makes a huge difference.
So what we have shown is the transport energy relates to density and there are emerge:
- the Automobile cities which have spread out with the car and they have very high fuel use,
- the Transit cities of Europe and so on which are in the middle and then
- the Walking cities that are predominantly dense places where the amount of car use is very small, doesn’t mean the streets aren’t filled with cars but they’re very dense quite small.
Our new book is called ‘The End of Automobile Dependence’ and this is a pretty big claim to make, but it does show that a new era is emerging where cities are moving beyond car-based planning and it’s pretty extraordinary to see that after a 100 years of per capita growth in driving in the use of cars in American cities, it peaked suddenly in the early part of this century and is now going down quite rapidly.
Per capita car use is back to what it was in 1994 in the US and every other developed city that we’ve been able to look at. So in Australia the same year 2004, every city in Australia including the small ones, the ones without any congestion- all started going down and this phenomenon can be traced to Europe and most of the developed world, Canada and so on.
Car culture is changing. If you look at American cities, the red line shows the most recent amount of car use and it’s going down considerably. Those in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s, 50s even but when you come out to the 60s and 70s, they’re driving more but they’re getting less and less. So the baby boomers who grow up with the car are finding it very hard to get out of their cars but they’re driving to their funerals, so essentially the world is changing – younger people are driving less, and what are they doing they’re using public transport a lot more because you can then do your connection through Facebook and all the other things that you can do with the social media and on every train.
This one’s in Seoul you’ll see this phenomenon. It is a culture that’s changing and we’ve got massive growth in public transport occurring unpredictably. The transport modellers saw wealth growth as meaning more car use- it’s not that, it’s a change. So now we’ve got 82 Chinese cities building metros, high-speed rail, we’ve got 51 Indian cities building metros now with the recent commitment from Modi, and all the Middle Eastern cities are building rail for the first time and these are the cities with oil so they know something.
Shanghai is a great story – look at the difference in 20 years in a city modernising, enormous increases in wealth in this city and they started to build freeways because wealth means cars and therefore more freeways but they stopped because the streets are filled, as any dense city will fill with cars very quickly. Now they have very low car ownership still in Shanghai but the streets are full, so what do you do at that point you can’t grow any further with transport so they built the biggest metro in the world in 10 years. 450 kilometres and it now carries 8 million passengers a day.
The same in Beijing and you can see on this graph here how bicycle use has gone from nearly 70% down to about 14% which is very sad to see but when you’re riding a bicycle in freezing weather and it’s a long way to go you very quickly choose a car if it comes along and you’ve got a bit of money and that’s what happened, very quickly the growth in private vehicles there, but then it peaked and started going down and the growth now is in public transport.
The metros are taking over the major growth and it does show cities change and they can become more sustainable in their transport. The systems that they’ve built there- very attractive, they move very quickly so they’re winning in the race to get people around the city. At the same time we’ve got 250 million electric vehicles now being used in Chinese cities, mostly e-bikes and e-scooters but the growth in the electric vehicle in general, is pretty dramatic and therefore the price of lithium-ion batteries coming down everywhere and and that’s helping the overall reduction in carbon. High speed rail has grown enormously in seven years, every city, major city now linked up. So that’s China.
In America, there’s also transformation occurring and it’s mostly about rail, the increase in public transport-23% in a period here of about 18 years, heavy rail grew 68%, light rail- 190% from a small base and bus-use actually went down.
So it wasn’t an overall change, it essentially meant that people getting out of cars into rail. My city (Perth) had a rail revival of a similar kind, it was a political process, the public chose from mass meetings and so on to bring back the rail system.
The changes were pretty dramatic, so we grew a 172 kilometers of electric rail in a 15-year period. Now this is a car city, this is a city built around the car from the 50s and 60s, the new rail lines like the Southern rail here was built quite cheaply about a quarter of the cost of a line of freeway and this is carrying 8 lines of traffic now. So dramatically successful- the Northern Line and the Southern line increased passenger usage from 7 million a year to 70 million a year. Not increased.
At the same time you begin to change the city, you focus urban development, you get a lot of development around stations and particularly in city centre where that’s now happened around the railway and new TODs very beautifully done have been emerging.
What we also found is that we could have paid for this rail revolution by using land value capture. We did a study which showed that there was a 42% increase in a five-year period around the stations on the southern railway. If you transfer that into how much money it raised for the government, 60 to 80% of the funding could have been found from value capture.
This is very important because we’re going to need very big networks of rail in every city and value capture is a way to do that. So overall the data is now very clear that we should be building trains not roads, for the economy in cities.
The new awareness of the knowledge-economy and how it grows in dense centres is very important because walkability, the walkable economy is now the agenda for many cities to become competitive. The top six most walkable cities in the US have 38% higher GDP.
So we’re not just talking about solving the Climate Change agenda here or clearing up urban air pollution- these are very important things to do but you will improve the economy of the city and that analysis we have shown through the way in which the knowledge economy needs to have very dense urban areas where people can meet easily and that is only possible if you have very highly efficient transport systems like rail and biking and walking that can use space very efficiently.
So the future city – the polycentric city of the future is likely to be based around these nodes of information or knowledge economy linked together by fast urban electric rail across the city, around the city, it doesn’t just have to be in central cities and that’s the kind of plan that we’re doing in Perth, we’ve shown that could fit into these centres and enable the economy to improve at the same time as rapidly declining car use.
So our university for example is going from a suburban campus to a city, it is creating a city around its campus that will be one of these polycentric cities.
Now final word about how change happens because we’ve been doing this around the world, we use new software for deliberative democracy processes, we engage communities in ways that can enable them to come with this new agenda, we’ve had recent work in India where we showed that it works extremely well, we started in Pune with a project to try and help pedestrians.
You can see this poor chap trying to cross the road, happens every minute of the day in Indian cities, it’s pretty chaotic and the road accident rightly expresses that. So how do we help pedestrians in these streets? We had a series of options drawn up by the BN College of Architecture for Women – did a wonderful job at providing designs that enable people to respond to them and we came up with a consensus view that this is the way ahead, all the NGOs, government departments, stakeholders like hawkers and businessmen they all came together and said ‘yes we want this,’ and on that day the local politician and the state politician Vandana Chavan, all said ‘yes we can fund this’ and we’ve now had changes to the streets.
Some of these small streets in particular been very successful- you can see how the footpath has disappeared, we’ve actually created the whole street as a footpath. The priority is for people walking, you solve problems of drainage and so on under it and then concrete it over, much more reflective, less absorbing of heat so it’s easier to sit outside on it and we found that the public were very happy with these changes. And so therefore it’s been taken on across Pune into other cities.
The other one was in Bangalore where we’ve been doing work on the metro- it’s a pretty extraordinary system that’s rolling out, but it will need to be extended to make a whole network otherwise you don’t have a real option of getting out of cars. We did the same thing with the deliberative democracy processes and then we had very high level department heads and so on working through this and seeing how it could help both make a better system and not displace the poor.
We also had a very successful consensus reached on that and you now find that ToDs are appearing around every station particularly the luxury housing which is now emphasising the connectivity through the the metro system, and the issues of what to do with the poorer housing that’s left around the metro station.
This one here is clearly going through a rapid transition and the opportunities to enable that area to retain its character with a lot of affordable housing options so that the poor are not displaced is clearly on the agenda and needs to be addressed. So these are the kind of issues that will be part of the Sustainable transport agenda that will be going on for some time but let’s be clear – ‘We’re Winning’.