Comment 70626

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted October 17, 2011 at 19:37:21

"Long-term planning is not about making long-term decisions, it is about understanding the future consequences of today's decisions. ~ Gary Ryan Blair

For those who are interested in further exploring as to why our cities will never attain the compact walkable form of European cities - it may be worth recognizing our propensity for celebrating heavy linear footprints of top-down planning which results in acronyms such as "BLAST".

Here is another example of this, much like our B-Line footprint: LRT plan for Hurontario/Main Street between Port Credit and downtown Brampton - which too is a bold linear swath across communities, essentially connecting two extreme points, resulting in a simplistic solution to complex issues of urban growth and sustainability.

Why do we deploy new solutions to re-manufacture old problems? Maybe, is it because of what is continued to be taught in our planning schools? or is it because of what we have come to expect of 'new and improved planning solutions'?

Cutting such bold simplistic linear swaths across regional landscapes in the name of greening and sustainability could only originate from top-down thinking -- which flies against the notion of polycentricity,(1), and emergence which are the building blocks of contemporary regional growth and good urban design patterns which are essentially evolutionary in nature.

While the instincts to draw such bold linear transit swaths may be noble gestures towards achieving progress, it is the cavalier, cock-sureness of future consequences that is alarming.

Blair's quote above, is a call to urban enthusiasts in Hamilton for understanding the true significance of long-term planning and the critical importance of 'future consequences' in creating long-term urban networks.

Blair also says:

"Values lay the groundwork for your goals; Goals lead to the fulfillment of your mission; Your mission leads to the realization of your life's work — your legacy."

What are the values that drives our push for LRT?

Being green or sustainable is not a value - it is a legacy, which is an outcome of a value.

Seeking compact urban forms is not a value - it is only a goal. What is it that drives this goal?

Do we truly seek compact cities in North America? Our propensity to cut large linear swaths across our landscape be they highways or LRT tracks, and to celebrate such designs as innovations clearly tell us that we do not.

Our heavy designs and the resulting heavy urban form merely reflect the values we cherish.

The next time you see an LRT in Dresden gracefully meandering thru its compact urban form, you may recognize the value behind the track design on which it moves with easy and confidence. And possibly even discover that such compact city forms are a result of societal values and not an outcome of design goals.

Mahesh P. Butani

LRT planning and compact urban forms:

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-10-17 20:20:59

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