Friday, March 27, 2009

Todd Litman workshop revisited

I attended a workshop on sustainable transport at the Northcote town hall on Tuesday run by Todd Litman and sponsored by the Institute for Sensible Transport which produced some useful ideas. Todd is a very energetic individual and he's put a tremendous amount of work into analysing public transport versus private and burrowed deep into such arcana as the costs of parking in various urban environments. What his statistics unequivocally showed was that cities with poor public transport options greatly disadvantage their lower income inhabitants but add to the living costs of nearly everyone. He showed too how far money spent on various transport options went in bringing multiple benefits including jobs.

What was particularly useful is that he showed how planners can cost the variables from various planning and transport choices to show net benefits in monetary terms for a much broader range of environmental and social outcomes than is traditionally the case and how if properly done this can allow planners to present cogent financial reasons to polticians and decision makers for doing the sensible thing.

There were forty or so attendees at the workshop, mainly from local government planning departments so one hopes that they will all go back to their offices and start modifying their spreadsheet analyses to take Todd's advice into account.

Top marks to Velo Cycles Elliot Fishman for organising the event! He had a particularly cool Bakfiets cargo bike there too.

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