The City as a Human Environment

By Duane G. Levine; Arthur C. Upton | Go to book overview

7
TRANSPORTATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT--LESSONS FROM THE GLOBAL LABORATORY

WILFRED OWEN

An assessment of the impacts of transportation on urban living produces two sharply contrasting pictures. On the positive side, modern methods of moving are the lifelines of the cities, making it possible to deliver food and supplies for massive concentrations of people and economic activity. Hundreds of millions of workers are able to get to their jobs and home again each day. Industry prospers from the specialization and expanding markets made possible by low-cost and reliable movement of goods and materials. Consumers enjoy opportunities and choices that could come only from the expanding radius of their activities and the ease of travel. Finally, the speed and range of modern transport, combined with telecommunications, have interconnected the great cities of the world in a global network of production, trade, and travel that has brought significant economic and physical change to a rapidly urbanizing planet.

But the achievements of transportation have been accompanied by the increasingly negative impacts of the conflict between mobility and livability. The cities of the world, in both rich countries and poor, are becoming paralyzed by traffic, stifled by pollutants, and visually diminished by blighted streetscapes and the intrusions of traffic into neighborhoods. The functioning of urban society and the role of the city as a focus of innovation and human progress appear threatened by conditions that transportation has created or that poor transportation has helped to sustain.

It need not be that way, for transportation, rather than detracting

-73-

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