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This chapter builds an argument emphasising the loss of accessibility levels at the local scale in the last decades, as a result of a fixation to improve accessibility through mobility gains. In considering mobility improvement as necessary and even sufficient to enhance accessibility, we have, unwillingly contributed to the loss of accessibility at the local scale, even though accessibility at the regional level might be improving. The chapter sets out the relevance of building awareness on local accessibility levels and their shifts over time, exploring the current main challenges to measuring accessibility at the local level. Special attention is given to need to develop tools which allow for comparison between the local and regional levels, particularly in the absence of a track record of past levels serving as benchmarks.
Edited by Jonathan Crush, Bruce Frayne and Gareth Haysom
Contemporary mobility practices are unsustainable, but households and firms depend on them. The search for a balance between the two sides of this dilemma advocated by the ‘sustainable mobility paradigm’ is not matched by achievements on the ground. The lack of progress seems rooted in the still tight connection between mobility growth and economic growth, and between economic growth and household welfare and firm viability. In order to question these relationships, this chapter positions the mobility debate within broader discussions about sustainable development and economic growth. A ‘positive growth’ and a ‘negative growth’ economic paradigm are sketched, and their mobility equivalents explored. The challenge for those advocating positive mobility growth is to show how transport technology can sufficiently and timely address persistent environmental and social issues. The challenge for those advocating negative mobility growth is to show how they can break the deep-seated lock-in of incumbent mobility structures and practices.
This chapter illuminates ways in which cost-benefit analyses as practiced in most countries tend to depict unsustainable transport solutions in urban regions in a too positive light. The valuation of negative environmental impacts tends to be grossly underestimated, particularly effects such as CO2 emissions. The discounting of future effects aggravates this by seriously diminishes long-term environmental impacts. Induced traffic from road construction in urban areas is often underestimated, especially long-term induced traffic resulting from urban sprawl facilitated by easier access to farther-away destinations. Moreover, environmental impacts pertaining to the construction period are often neglected or underestimated. Due to the method’s tendency of underestimating adverse environmental effects while overestimating travel time savings, cost-benefit analyses tend to legitimize a high spending of society’s resources on road construction and delegitimize environmental opposition against road capacity expansion.
Transport provisions, including walking can impact positively and negatively on children. Positively through providing access to a wider range of facilities and places. Negatively when provision of public transport is poor and when private vehicles dominate contributing to air pollution, less safe environments and when they support unsustainable lifestyles. Urban form has increasingly changed to accommodate the needs of rising traffic numbers rather than prioritising the needs of children for safe and healthy environments that support independent mobility, socialising and outdoor play. Rising traffic levels and children’s withdrawal from the public realm results in spatial and social deskilling of children and reduces their sense of belonging. Children themselves through the climate change movements are challenging the ways society functions, including its reliance on fossil fuels and rising traffic trends. Cities are also recognising the need to find alternative urban forms where neighbourhoods, streets and the places children live are de-trafficked to create better safer living environments for children, their families and society in general.