Recently, Dr. Eric Miller from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Toronto spoke in Vancouver on the third revolution of transportation within cities. If he had been teaching back when I was there I might have focused more on transportation and urban planning than trying to learn how to design large buildings and bridges. In hindsight, it is amusing to reflect that I moved into transportation, the movement of goods, three years after receiving my undergraduate degree.
He talked about how revolutions in transportation have effected the shaping of cities. The first two revolutions, wheel on steel (rail) and then car-based, meant more speed in transporting people allowing for homes to be farther removed from employment and facilitating creation of urban sprawl. The third revolution, the one that we are in now, is different as it is not about technology advances. It is about social forces and drivers. It is about the rebalancing of transportation options. The last revolution was car based, speed based, that created such a demand for road space for cars that cannot be satisfied physically in cities, both from responsible land use and financial health of city governments. Now, a correction is needed. Yet continuously, there are still initiatives by governments, landowners, and developers to run against the fact that car growth is not economically sustainable by cities or beneficial for the health of the population.
During the excellent lecture there seemed to be three influencers that were missing in the arguments presented: