Most transportation-related problems are ultimately attributable to the high kinetic energy of fast, heavy motor vehicles. The challenge is to find a way to lower the kinetic energy of personal travel dramatically, without compromising any of the benefits of motor vehicle use or suburban living. I believe that the only way to achieve this is to create two autonomous and universally accessible travel networks: one for fast-heavy vehicles, the other for low-speed, light transportation modes.
The town plan and transportation system proposed here offers a safe, convenient, clean, and pleasant environment. It should be attractive to households without requiring economic or regulatory incentives or injunctions. The requisite technologies, and analyses of their economic and social impacts, are available now.
An additional benefit, somewhat ancillary to the motivations of most urban planners, is a positive impact of such systems on sustainability. Dual-mode systems have the promise of reducing demand for certain nonrenewable resources, of decreasing the energy use in transportation, and of ameliorating transportation-related impacts on water quality. Because sustainable actions are ultimately personal choices, two-mode systems encourage choices that simultaneously improve both perceived quality of life and sustainability. This approach may thus serve as an example of the sort of more general planning that can ultimately enhance links between society and sustainability.
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