This chapter sets the scene for the Handbook by examining definitions of sustainable transport and explaining the rationale and structure of the book. The four parts of the book are outlined, including the brief that authors were given for their contributions to the book.
This chapter first explains how the older, predict and provide approach to transport planning emerged and how it functioned, and why it gained much of the strength as a concept that it retains even today. It then explains how problems with the older paradigm - principally, continuing congestion and traffic forecasts so high that they could not be catered for - led gradually to a new way of thinking about transport planning, where the idea of managing demand for private vehicle traffic, improving alternative modes and planning land use to reduce trip lengths all played a role. The chapter explains the reasons why the paradigm remains partially implemented and highly contested. The chapter concludes that transport planning will continue to include both paradigms for some time to come, with major implications for how well problems such as traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from transport can be dealt with.
Leigh Glover and Nicholas Low
We propose that ‘sustainability’ is a concept of great and vital importance for planning, managing, regulating, using and evaluating modern transport systems. Modern transport systems, namely those reliant on fossil fuel energy sources, are highly unsustainable in economic, social and environmental ways. This chapter clarifies and explains the concept of sustainability and its application to the transport sector. An account is given of the assessment of the transport sector and the range of expressions of its failings to be sustainable in environmental, social and economic ways. Three key issues are then examined: Transport emissions and global climate change; Human health impacts of transport and road trauma; and Oil dependency and peak oil, after which conclusions are drawn. Sustainability constitutes a critique of modern transport systems that finds them to be ‘unsustainable transport’.
The car-based paradigm is an example of a long-lasting and pervasive paradigm based on the unquestioning acceptance of the benefits of motorised mobility (e.g. time savings) and the exclusion from policy and debate of a wide ranging list of costly and avoidable disbenefits. The list of disbenefits includes death and injury on the roads, a total of 3700 fatalities every day globally, space inefficiency and costly health impacts. The international discussion of climate change and the contribution of motorised transport to greenhouse gas emissions contribute a significant additional element of economic inefficiency. Economic inefficiency is replicated and reinforced by huge subsidies and by even larger uncovered (the polluter does not pay) externalities. The car-based paradigm is ripe for overthrow but this will require political will to abolish subsidy and introduce full internalisation of external costs and shift spending from roads, airports and high speed rail to sustainable alternatives. At the time of writing this political will is absent.
Transportation is more than a way to travel; it provides access to jobs and services, it can increase physical activity and improve mental health, and it can help people integrate into the community. But transportation infrastructure and services can also exacerbate existing social inequities, e.g. through uneven distribution of bus routes, displacement of households and businesses, or providing infrastructure that ignores the needs of vulnerable communities. In this chapter, social equity and social disadvantage are discussed in order to understand the benefits and burdens associated with transportation, particularly inequitable distribution of burdens among vulnerable populations. These include barriers to transportation choice, unequal transit coverage and access to jobs and employment, health impacts, and displacement of low-income residents. Solutions to these persistent challenges, such as integrating land use tools to protect affordable housing and negotiating community benefits agreements, are presented at the end of the chapter.
Starting in an era where three quantifiable impacts of road transport were viewed as the sum total of impacts - casualties and air and noise pollution - from the embryo of the evolving transport and health interdisciplinary field is charted from the perspective of a UK actor in the field. A number of key events are described, from the highlighting of chronic as well as acute health impacts, the damage from sedentary car-based lifestyles, and re-appraisals of prior assumptions. The role of key agencies include the British Medical Association and the World Health Organization as trusted brands in helping to convey new understanding as to the health impacts of road transport as the inter-disciplinary scientific field has expanded.
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.