Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How do we think about multi-modal transportation?

The Atlantic has a great piece on Missouri's first-in-the-nation "diverging diamond" interchange, where a livable streets advocate (Charles Marohn) contrasts his interpretation of a walk through the interchange with that of the engineer promoting it. In a larger sense, though, Marohn asks us to think about how we integrate non-auto modes into our transportation system.

Marohn alleges in the video (around 7:00 or so) that the way that traffic engineers think about non-auto mobility is flawed. He says that the design is, first and foremost, designed to meet "the standard engineering parameter of being able to move cars very quickly through here," and only after meeting that criteria are any alternative modes considered. He concedes that the design accommodates pedestrians and cyclists better than some intersections, but that it still demonstrates an overwhelming preference for automobiles over other modes.

If we are really serious about shifting away from the dominance of the car, we need to think about designing transportation systems to accommodate all modes equally, rather than designing for cars first and leaving everyone else as an afterthought.

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