Essay: Sustainable transportation

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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Published on: February 4, 2019
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  • Sustainable transportation
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Based on the way they have been designed and constructed, almost all suburban cities have been built around car culture (McGillivray). This is the reason many people in Peel Region prefer to drive rather than resort to other modes of transport, even in short distances (McGillivray).

Although popular, increased automobile use has resulted in a series of health and environmental issues, which are associated with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (Xia, 2017). Thus, sustainable transportation has lately been a significant issue on the agenda for many regions. It is a challenging task persuading the public to adopt more environmentally friendly travel behavior patterns as there are many factors that affect such travel behaviors. Issues such as unsafe pedestrian crossings, missing sidewalks, heavy truck traffic, and high speed limits are also some of the region’s infrastructure issues as they discourage residents to resort to more active modes of transportation such as walking and cycling. The implementation of the LRTP update is therefore necessary for Peel region to reduce the number of cars on the road as it significantly promotes sustainable transportation.

How it relates to debates/themes/practices of planning

Suburban developments began gaining prestige in the mid-nineteenth century and with industrialization, worsening city conditions, and improvements to transportation developed, the rise of the separation between home and work became much more evident as many of these regions were built for blue-collar workers who pursued an escape from the discomforts and perils of industrial cities (Garnett, 2007). Emphasis was decidedly on updating transportation systems, which was best captured by the 1964 Metropolitan Toronto Plan –Recommended Transportation Plan’s ambitious urban expressway proposals (Jill Grant, pg ). Almost all plans formulated during this period shared the idea of a metropolitan region where the significance of the car would blossom and where traffic would be streamed through a hierarchy of roads, along with an advanced expressway system at its pinnacle (Jill grant). Official plans and planning reports such as the LRTP are calling for a keen shift of present urban development patterns, and a departing from postwar urbanization trends. These documents promote an increase in reliance on cycling, transit, and walking whilst being committed to reduced car dependence and higher density.


Peel Region’s Transportation Planners are working alongside with residents to implement the LRTP as input from community members helps in guiding the future development of the Region.

The benefits

With a wider focus on sustainable transportation, the population will reap many of the benefits as a result. An obvious benefit would be the environmental benefits of public use of transit per se, as commuters switching from driving to transit, less motorized vehicles will contribute to congestion during rush hour (jill grant). There are also benefits at the individual level, as some people seek to engage in travel activities that provide them with personal emotional, physical, or mental benefits; or makes them feel good about supporting the environment. These motivations are integrated into the concept of enjoyment and can occur both at individual and global levels including personal health (e.g., walking for physical exercise) and benefiting the natural environment (e.g., cycling to decrease tailpipe emissions and fossil fuel usage).

Another perspective to look at would be the downfalls of these alternative transportation modes. Bicycling and walking tend to be less time-competitive with motorized modes over long distances. There are also other travel barriers to cycling and walking including bad weather, hills, and heavy packages (Schneider, 2013). Environmental barriers to bicycle and pedestrian activity are related to roadway characteristics (e.g. unsafe street crossings, high automobile speeds, and higher automobile volumes), public space characteristics (e.g., few street trees, noise, and poor lighting) and lack of facilities (e.g., multi-use trails, bicycle lanes, or sidewalks) all of which the Peel Region is currently subjected to. There are also concerns about personal security (e.g., risk of being victim of crime), traffic safety (e.g., risk of being hit by vehicle) and socioeconomic characteristics (e.g., physical disabilities) which must all be considered in the Long-Range Transportation Plan.

With this discussion, it can be easily understood that focusing on a single step, such as adding bike lanes to the roads and expecting there to be an increase in cyclists without first reducing speed limits, may do little to reduce automobile use and does not suffice to the degree that is necessary to cultivate active transportation (Penalosa). The LRTP must be develop comprehensive approaches that address enjoyment, basic safety and security concerns, convenience and cost, and habits and it is with these approaches that there will become potential to increase sustainable transportation (Schneider).

The fact that suburbs like Brampton are primarily residential (Forsyth, 2012) make it difficult for residents to maneuver throughout as it lacks adequacy in the necessary infrastructure is required to accommodate a population engaged it modes of active transportation. If the organizational facilities and structures were more abundant, as is the case in high density cities such as Toronto, more people would be willing to ditch the automobile and switch to active transportation modes.

Due to this dependence on automobiles, suburbs are beginning to incorporate more urban features

development of accessible infrastructure as is the case in high-density cities such as Toronto, and…

The suburbs have been defined as car-dependent, spread-out, and drive-thru. They’re also known as lower-density locations from which the “heart of the city can be reached quickly, conveniently and at low cost (Forsyth, 2012).

A Long-Range Transportation Plan Update is underway in the Region of Peel. This 25-year plan will guide regional transportation policy through to 2041 and inform amendments to the Regional Official Plan. This transportation master plan will also be conducted under the Municipal Environmental Process.

The reason for this plan update is to provide better transportation for the all residents in the Region of Peel by making it faster, safer, greener, easier and healthier.

The region plans to do this by making: the best use of its current transportation infrastructure; strategic investments in new transportation infrastructure; sustainable transportation and transit a priority; and planning for new transportation technologies. This includes but is not limited to these transportation themes: promoting sustainable modes of transportation; integrating land use planning with transportation; increasing efficiency of the Goods movement Network

The Region of Peel is creating this plan to accommodate for an increase to about a quarter to double the amount of its current population by the year 2041. By this date, its expected that there will be more jobs, more trucks on the road, more passengers using the Pearson Airport, and of course, more people generally. Planners are also aiming to make active travel more feasible for inhabitants, provide transportation solutions that are less harmful to the environment, create wa
ys to support the regions business sector and integrate it within the community, as well as reduce traffic congestion by offering transportations modes other than single-occupant vehicles.

Beginning in 2016, the Long-Range Transportation Plan Update has so far implemented component studies and modeling work. It is currently in the stage of conducting stakeholder workshops, public meetings and Transportation Region Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) open houses in Mississauga, Caledon and Brampton.

The current statistic in the Peel Region regarding modes of transportation is that 66% of inhabitants use automobiles, 5% walk or cycle, 2% are school bus passengers, 17% are carpoolers and 9% use public transit. Many of those inhabitants also drive short distances when they could walk, as 58% of car drivers in Peel use their vehicles for trips of 2 kilometres or less, while only 17% walk such distances. In regards to cycling, it has been found that 63% drive distances of 7 kilometres or less, while 0% actually cycle such spreads.

In knowing that most citizens of peel rely on their vehicles for transportation, even in short distances, it is no surprise that those who commute.

As of 2016, Brampton had a total population of 593,638 (Vicente, 2017) of which nearly 523,000 commuting within the region during the morning peak period (6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.). This is staggering figure accounts for nearly 90% of the population who work in the Peel region with an median trip distance of 11 kilometres.

In moving toward a more sustainable transportation future, the goal for the Region of Peel is to drastically reduce the amount of car drivers on the road, while greatly increasing the number of carpoolers, transit riders, pedestrians walking and cyclists. In implementing these plans, the LRTP update has so far developed a Proposed Cycling Network, as well as a Proposed Pedestrian Network throughout the region. The plan update has also created a Rapid Transit Map and has projected road improvements beginning from 2021 up until its targeted accomplishment year, 2041.

The Region of Peel is also developing the Sustainable Transportation Strategy (STS) as a component of the LRTP, which is an action plan to contribute to the building of a transportation network that is efficient, safe, and healthy for all users. It is an initiative to allure cycling, public transit, walking, and carpooling for the Region’s population, leading to a significant rise in travel by these modes by 2041.

With 40% more people projected to reside in Peel by 2041, the Region will prone to environmental issues, health concerns, infrastructure demand, and accumulating traffic related congestion unless single occupancy vehicle use is lessened.

The STS will be cultivated as a plan to encourage and enable more residents to engage in travel modes such as walking, transit, cycling, and carpooling as the potential of these transportation modes have not yet be fully realized in the Region of Peel.

Peel Region’s Transportation Planners are working alongside with residents to implement the LRTP as input from community members helps in guiding the future development of the Region.

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