Accessibility vs. Mobility

Traffic engineer Ian Lockwood from Glatting Jackson has been to Detroit a few times now for planning efforts to spur redevelopment and revitalization.

He’s highlighted a key concept for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit advocates. Current U.S. traffic engineering culture pursues greater mobility, i.e. how fast someone can get between places. That’s often why they are stuck thinking primarily about cars, wider roads, higher speeds, and interstate expressways.

Lockwood says we should all focus on accessibility instead. In doing so, we’d try to rein in sprawl, increase density, and improve transportation options.

Perhaps given our automotive heritage, Detroit seems particulary focused on mobility. A recent Brookings Institute report found Metro Detroit led the nation in job sprawl. Seventy-seven percent of our jobs are more than 10 miles from the city center.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“From transportation to workforce development to regional innovation and the provision of social services, the spatial distribution of a metro area’s jobs can ultimately influence its economic productivity, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion and equity,” wrote Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior research analyst at Brookings and author of the 23-page report.

Is there any wonder why we can’t find enough money to repair our roads?

At a recent traffic engineering meeting, Jonathon Levine, a researcher from the University of Michigan gave a presentation about accessibility versus mobility. Fortunately it’s on-line but be forewarned: it’s a little traffic geeky. Even so, the first couple minutes really nail the point about accessibility versus mobility.

And for those that can’t make it through the entire video, this slide really captures the main thrust that accessibility should be the ends. The means includes mobility, proximity (how close things are together) and connectivity (can you access them remotely, e.g. through the Internet).

Levine's Accessibility model for transportation

This needs to be the transportation paradigm for Metro Detroit, and if it were, it’d make bicycling a viable transportation option for more people more often.

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One Response to “Accessibility vs. Mobility”

  1. andy Says:

    he is my prof at U of M, he’s brilliant. but how do I download this video, anyone knows?

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