Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Traffic as pollution

In the post below about maximum parking, with the words of New England Development's attorney ringing in my ears, I really struggled with how to convey that it should be acceptable to put a cap on business success to stem excess traffic. (Attorney John Twohig asked, in so many words, if a developer was supposed to limit the success of a tenant who succeeded beyond expectations.)

Then it hit me. We put caps on pollution, even though those caps may hurt business (though not, perhaps, in the long run). If success leads to too much pollution, you have to succeed less.

Traffic is pollution. It pollutes our air, our streets, our peace-of-mind. It's pollution that we all happily create. But, it's pollution nonetheless.

Capping a development's contribution to traffic pollution should not be a controversial notion.

Previously: Trip generation maximums


Anonymous said...

The issue here, I suppose, is not how many trips are made to and from a development. The issue is the mode of transportation in which those trips are made.

If all trips are going to be made by private automobile then, naturally, the number of trips will be limited by the capacity of the roadways, parking space, the cost of gasoline, potential future restrictions or fees based on carbon emisssions, and so on. Private automobiles are nowhere near as efficient a mode of transport as rail, bus and, for short-distance trips, even bicycles.

So, I'd reverse the question: Why would a developer and a municipal government want to artificially cap the future success of their own busines and tax base by only providing for automobile transportation -- the least efficient mode of travel?

To really ensure the future success of these new developments we need to be designing them as mixed-use, multi-modal projects. Otherwise, we are artificially capping our own economic growth.

Let's see the glazed-over looks when you run that by them at the next town meeting...

Eric said...

Let's be honest here. This development is going to be in Newton. Newton would sooner provide city sponsored valets than extend a rail or bus line to curb auto traffic. The developers know their market, and it's not the folks that are going to take the train out to the mall.

I would love to see the Green Line extended to parts of Rte. 9. It would help with some of the congestion on that road, but in the end, in this town, you're fighting a car loving mentality more than you are the lack of alternate means of travel. That development could be tied in to public transportation, have great pedestrian access, and a bike path, and everyone would still drive to it.

Anonymous said...

unless it were impossible to park their car at the destination and other means were provided for getting there. in which case, they wouldn't drive there because they couldn't.

american automobile dependence is going to end somewhere, some time. better it be the time and place of our choosing rather than waiting for geology, climate or the iranian government to choose for us.