Rethinking transportation in an urban scene
Lecturer promotes realistic change in travel; biking, public transit as alternatives
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 21:04
The Burack Distinguished Lecture Series hosted sustainable urbanism and transportation expert Dr. Robert Cervero April 5 to explain developments and issues he has seen in creating environmentally friendly cities.
Cervero explained to his audience that he isn’t completely “anti-car.”
“I myself have a car and I drive a car,” he said.
Cervero then began to explain that using a car does not necessarily mean a person is committing an evil.
Cheap parking encourages the use of car travel for distance that could otherwise be biked or walked. This practice has implications that go beyond causing traffic.
“Cars have a role to play — we just have excessive use of them,” he said. “If you make it cheap and easy to park, people will use it.”
Cervero explained that although driving is convenient, it does have negative effects.
“We hugely overuse driving,” he said. “This requires more parking, which in turn pollutes rivers and air quality.”
Although Cervero is currently teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, his interest in sustainable living and transportation has reached a global level as he has witnessed new, innovative ideas in creating a sustainable living area internationally.
He highlighted Vauban, Germany, a district that in recent years has tossed the autobahn and converted almost entirely to biking for its main mode of transportation.
“The equivalent of $17,000 a year is what it costs to have the privilege to park in [Vauban],” Cervero said.
He said that 70 percent of families who moved to Vauban explained that they felt happier living in Vauban.
“I thought this would be a largely hippie-based community, but what I found was that 40 percent of the inhabitants are families,” Cervero said. “It is very family friendly.”
By having an environmentally friendly town with convenient, practical transportation, Cervero explained that a more diverse working group would populate areas that make commuting easy.
“Easier transportation will bring a more diverse working community,” he said.
Environmentally friendly transportation can mean anything from functioning biking lanes, to bus routes which pair convenience with practicality.
In recent years UVM has added “Green Buses” to the on- and off-campus transportation system.
These buses offer students a means of getting around while burning compressed natural gas, and emit 50 percent fewer nitrogen oxides than standard petroleum diesel burning buses, according to the CarShare Vermont website.
UVM has also partnered with CarShare Vermont, an organization committed to helping people travel with fewer cars.
For a monthly fee, all members of CarShare have access 24/7 to any company vehicle in the most convenient area to its member.
CarShare Vermont strives to make transportation as convenient as possible for the daily commuter while reducing the number of cars on and off the road.
CareShare Vermont explains in its mission statement that residents do not need to own their own car(s) for everyday life.
First-year student Derek Neal explained his view of transportation on campus.
“The bus is very convenient, although I miss [it] every other morning by 30 seconds,” Neal said. “I don’t think you need a car on campus.”