It’s all about the space, about the space

When it comes down to it, transportation is all about the space.  Want to maximize fast movement of vehicles unimpeded?  Allocate plenty of space for cars and limit distractions like other modes or intersections or driveways.  Want to keep driving easy and convenient?  Allocate (actually, legislate) the provision of parking at home, at work, at shopping, and at play.  Want to create protected bikeways that actually feel comfortable for people to use?  Re-allocate street space for that purpose.  Etc.  Even for autonomous and connected vehicles, one of the arguments in their favor is their space saving qualities, from right-sizing the vehicles to the trip at hand to being able to reduce the space in between moving vehicles on the road.

Cities exist as a place where multiple activities come together in a relatively confined area. And space is a finite resource in cities; how that space is allocate will directly dictate what modes of transport are the most efficient, most convenient, most comfortable, and create the most enjoyable, livable environment in which to be a human being.  This mapping project of the “Distribution of Public Space at Urban Intersections” nicely illustrates how urban transportation space tends to get distributed now.  And the space-saving nature of bicycle transportation is an explicit guiding factor, in addition to environmental or health factors, for transportation planning in Copenhagen according to a recent municipal performance report.

How cities decide to right-size urban public space as more options for right-sizing transportation modes is perhaps the key question of the next decade.

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