Sustainability. It’s a word that’s been bandied about by many futurists, urbanists and thinkers. Yet it’s a concept that, for some reason, is seemingly difficult and time-consuming to implement. Granted, transitioning toward a sustainable urban environment is a challenge in infrastructure design, but it must remain a clear focus and a high-priority goal if we are to move our civilisation forward.
The planners of our future will need to stop talking about a “sustainable future”, and rather begin the implementation of it. I think that the biggest impedance comes from political pressure: the unfortunate reality is that it is the politicians that dictate the design of our environments, and the engineers and designers are merely the technicians that carry-out these ideals. If we truly want to progress toward that green light of our imagined future, we’ll need to move beyond political chatter and instigate real, determined thinking that can influence the change needed.
And the road to sustainable cities lies in our transportation grid. A sustainable city is one where there is a careful management of resources; a sensitive attitude toward the natural environment. Carbon is a key factor in this; it’s quite simple – reduction of carbon means a greener urban space. Thus the implementation of bikes, trains and busses through managed systems and programmes is a way that can improve the kinetic scope of cities, and thus lead to a sustainable growth in the urban fabric. It reduces the exponential growth of individual vehicles, streamlines traffic networks and allows for the creation of a more structured, organised city – a future urban space that can promote the thinking and ideas needed in a society that’s increasingly looking forward.
Technologically, by having regulated transportation programmes, there exists the possibility of computerised control that allows a far better managed, integrated transportation system. It means safer, more reliable public vehicles running on regulated schedules, increasing reliance on these systems and thus better adoption of them. Let’s face it: public transport isn’t a very attractive means of getting about. But if we were to design and engineer a system that fully integrates these key components, and make them an integral part of the city, we a sure to be on-track to attaining that “sustainable” future we’re so craving right now.