Although that point has been documented, over and over again, it is still one of the last things you’d expect to hear from a conference of planners and transit advocates. But those words come from Genevieve Giuliano, of the University of Southern California, who pointed to New York and London as examples of high-density, high-congestion cities. And she wasn’t the only one to link high-density and congestion: “In the near term, without question, you get more traffic at intersections and longer lines at Safeways” near transit-oriented developments, said Bob Cervero, a professor of city planning at the University of California Berkeley. Also: Mark Pisano, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional planning agency, conceded that with Los Angeles County expected to swell by more than 1 million people by 2030, traffic congestion will undoubtedly get worse … During the past 25 years, he pointed out, Los Angeles County has switched from spending more than two-thirds of its federal, state and local transportation funds on freeways to spending the same percentage on mass transit. And yet, the solution isn’t steering away from rail or building roads or pricing them properly. The answer is tougher land use regulations, and more “smart” growth: Such “smart growth” enables people to shop, dine and work closer to home, with the result being that “the average trip, in length and in time, will be less in the future,” Pisano said. “Even with more people.” For more transportation and land use sobriety from Berkeley’s Bob Cervero, checkout Access.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.