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Friday, January 25, 2013

Aspirations for a Changing City

We hope that have started to think about the future of transportation in the District and what our goals should be to get us there. Investments in transportation can help the District achieve its transportation goals as well as larger city goals.
At this point, you might be asking, “What are other world-class cities doing? What are their goals? What are they trying to achieve?”
We’re sure that some of you will do your own research. We hope that you’ll share what you learn with us.
How about we give you a head start?
We’ve taken a look at the goals, strategies, and outcomes of transportation plans of New York City, London (United Kingdom), Vancouver (Canada), Stockholm (Sweden), Tokyo (Japan), Melbourne (Australia), and Copenhagen (Denmark). We would have liked to have reviewed plans from other international cities such as Paris, Berlin, and Hong Kong; however, English-language versions were not available. A full summary of our review (Global Peers) is on the project website (
A few observations…
All of the plans we reviewed seek to position their respective communities to accommodate growth—New York City growing to a population of 9 million, London adding 1.4 million people and 750,000 jobs, Tokyo seeking to raise its profile on the world stage, and Vancouver, Copenhagen, Melbourne and Stockholm adding people and jobs in transport-rich locations. All of the plans recognize the important role and wide-reaching impact that transportation has in modern society. While each of these plans have transportation focused sections or are solely transportation focused, their goals, summarized briefly in the following, are more expansive and indicative of the wide-reaching impacts of transportation: 
  • Enhance people’s quality of life
  • Offer more and better travel choices
  • Encourage walking, bicycling, and transit use
  • Support and create vibrant communities and neighborhoods
  • Encourage environmental stewardship
  • Integrate land use and transportation decision-making
  • Create economic opportunity
  • Prepare for changes in climate and natural disasters
  • Generate and appropriate adequate transportation funding
In terms of outcomes, the plans recommend significant investments in bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities. They talk about go anywhere, anytime transit that is efficient and attractive. Many of the plans are direct in stating that increasing revenue dedicated to transportation systems is essential. Several of the plans recommend strategies to manage traffic congestion through incentives and disincentives—London’s now famous congestion charge was an outcome of that city’s planning efforts. Most of the plans address the way in which the plan can be flexible to accommodate local priorities, which is essential if ideas are to become reality.
What should the District try to achieve over the next 50 years?
Not sure about putting your thoughts here, come see us on February 9th at the Idea Exchange and tell us in-person. More details are on the project website (

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