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December 2008
Volume 4, Number 3

Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty (2007)

By Daniel Lerch
The Post Carbon Institute

Post Carbon Cities provides a sobering view of the realities faced by local governments with fading energy supply (peak oil) and global climate change; this straight-forward guidebook can be a valuable resource for local decision makers who want their municipalities to remain economically and environmentally viable during this uncertain period. Lerch presents his arguments directly, convincing the reader of the coming crisis while he provides hope by outlining opportunities that can be taken to address the problem now. Post Carbon Cities demonstrates why local governments cannot rely solely upon higher-level government, and how it is in their best interest to plan now for this uncertain future. In fact, local governments have strong links to their citizens and exercise control over areas such as building construction and efficiency, land use and transportation patterns, and local economic activity. These powers, unique to municipal agencies, allow them the opportunity to be quite effective at addressing the situation. Among the recommendations offered by Lerch are to establish a volunteer-based peak oil task force, to enlist municipal staff and business leaders to help identify and mitigate local vulnerabilities to a volatile oil supply, and to apply systems thinking (a holistic approach to problem solving) at the local level. He also presents supplemental resources, case studies, and lessons learned from cities and towns that have already begun preparing for these impending changes.

TCRP Report 128: Effects of TOD on Housing, Parking, and Travel (2008)

By G. B. Arrington, PB PlaceMaking, Portland, OR, and Robert Cervero, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
The Transit Cooperative Research Program of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.

This new report attempts to clarify the relationship between livable communities and transit, building on the 2004 TCRP Report 102, Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects. Researchers looked at travel patterns in 17 TOD developments situated in four metropolitan areas (Philadelphia/northeast New Jersey, Portland, Oregon; metropolitan Washington, D.C., and San Francisco’s East Bay Area) including the Gaslight Commons project in South Orange, NJ. As expected, investigators found that housing development in these locations produced considerably less traffic than is generated by conventional development. Such evidence is useful to counter standard practices regarding parking requirements and traffic impact assessments which often fail to take into account this fundamental difference. Furthermore, the assumption that TOD has essentially the same impacts as conventional development can hinder the potential affordability and/or profitability of these projects by requiring more parking than may be needed. Researches cite the need for further study into parking generation to determine whether residents of communities well served by transit own cars at the same rate as residents in the surrounding area, but simply use them less. Also, because this research focused on only residential uses, additional research will be necessary to determine the impacts of mixed-use development on parking and travel behavior. While limited in this way, public officials, planners, and land developers interested in the impacts of TOD and how to improve the performance of transit-friendly development should find this study useful.

 

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