Below is the abstract for a presentation I gave in April 2000. I think you folks will find the ideas useful in our efforts to help others give bicycle and pedestrian travel serious consideration - beyond "enhancements" or token sidewalks and bus stops.
I hope to change the culture of land use and transportation planning in Vermont, and nationwide, by basing designs on pedestrian access rather than vehicle mobiliy.
Land use and transportation planning in Vermont are at the crossroads. As we transition out of the “Interstate Era” and into our vision of growth centers and multi-modal transportation, we need to move beyond the “traffic study” mentality. Vehicle mobility and roadway Level Of Service are no longer appropriate benchmarks of success as we develop our communities.
Instead, growth centers and multi-modal transportation are based unequivocally on walking. No other mode of transport supports existing land use and transportation policies with the efficacy of pedestrian access to local and regional destinations. For example, by ensuring that a pedestrian can reach his or her destination, growth centers will evolve naturally, since human-scale designs which facilitate pedestrian access to land uses are inherently compact, mixed-use, and aesthetically similar to the traditional Vermont settlement. Similarly, multi-modal transportation is also predicated upon pedestrians designs, since walking is a part of EVERY trip and pedestrian activity links all modes like bus, rail and auto into a seamless system. The pedestrian is the common element and foundation of an integrated multi-modal transportation system.
More importantly, however, pedestrian-friendly communities are equitable. Everyone is a pedestrian and we can all use properly designed pedestrian facilities, whether or not we drive a car. Children are therefore empowered to transport themselves to school or a sports practice, and the disabled and elderly can independently travel to get a gallon of milk or reach other daily destinations. The same cannot be said for infrastructure and land use patterns designed around vehicle mobility. The patterns of sprawl actually discriminate against those who do not drive, because without a car, those folks experience greater difficulty reaching the places they need to go daily.
This presentation will explore the emerging model of basing land use and transportation in Vermont on pedestrian travel and the associated designs that make communities friendly for walking. In such a model, “access to destinations” for all travelers will replace vehicle mobility in every step of local, regional, and state planning decisions. Part of this presentation will look at Act 250 and its unbalanced reliance on the traffic study for reviewing development proposals. We will also develop a framework for creating a “pedestrian planning culture” statewide.