Suggested Citation: Delucchi, Mark A. and Kenneth S. Kurani (2013) How to Have Sustainable Transportation without Making People Drive Less or Give Up Suburban Living. Journal of Urban Planning and Development 140 (4)
Motorized automobility and suburban living are highly valued but also are associated with a range of serious social problems, including deaths and injuries of motor-vehicle users and non-users, roadway congestion, air pollution, dependence on insecure oil supplies, community fragmentation, and climate change. However, these problems, which make our present transportation and land-use system “unsustainable,” are not necessary consequences of automobility and suburban living per se, but rather are attributable mainly to the high kinetic energy of fast, heavy motor vehicles (FHVs). Therefore, the challenge in creating a sustainable transportation and land-use system is to dramatically lower the kinetic energy of personal travel while retaining the advantages of personal motorized automobility and low-density development. Our approach is to redefine the technical artifact that is the conventional “automobile” and create two autonomous and universally accessible travel networks at a city-wide scale: one for FHVs, the other for low-speed, low-mass modes (LLMs) including walking, cycling, and a new class of motor vehicles. Here we motivate the need for this new urban-settlement and transportation-infrastructure scheme (USATIS), describe its design principles and features, review aspects of it in the literature and in the real world, present analyses covering a wide range of sustainability criteria—safety, mobility, congestion, environmental and energy-use impacts, urban aesthetics and community fragmentation, and economics—and discuss challenges for implementation and future research. We conclude that our USATIS does have the potential to support sustainable transportation without making people drive less or give up suburban living, but that before practical implementation plans can be considered, more research needs to be done on how people will adapt to the opportunities and constraints in our proposal.