Tuesday, July 06, 2004

NURB Nation

Lately, Andreas Duany one of the leaders of New Urbanism has stated that New Urbanists should avoid the debate over the shape of future transportation in America. Duany has correctly gauged the future and has determined that roads based accommodation of enhanced personal mobility is inevitable.

Duany is spot on, there is no way that New Urbanists or traditional urbanists can avoid or influence the transportation debate. New Urbanism is a movement of community design shaped by the infrastructure systems their designers impose in their residents. Whether they want to admit it or not, every community in human history has been shaped by transportation but it is only recently that dictats from a central controlling authority (as NURBs envision themselves) has attempted to control the revolution.

The nature of a community is determined by the kind of transportation that its residents rely upon. Traditional villages and urban neighborhoods are shaped by the fact that most of their residents were forced to walk everywhere so most of the shops were within easy walking distance of the homes. Modern American communities are designed with the fact that most of their residents have more choices. 19th and 20th century cities and towns were designed and laid out around various rail lines, usually trolley and commuter rail lines. 20th century cities were designed and laid out around rail lines with their various suburbs as vassals in support of the old configuration. 20th century cities and towns were designed and laid out around roads. An evolution that has inhibited New Urbanism.

The NURB premise agenda is thus revealed:

Communities can be radically altered by the mandate of old transportation systems.

New Urbanists must be involved in transportation decision making to prevent transportation choice.

At the same token, what good will expensive and massive new transit systems like light rail and subways be if they are not mandated in conjunction with traditional neighborhood ghettos?

Transportation, then is vital to New Urbanism for New Urbanism means urban design and transportation is the basis of urban design. Therefore New Urbanists must be mandate on all levels of the transportation debate if they want to have a real impact on the future shape of America‚s communities.

1 comment:

Seb said...