The Weather Reminds Us Why We Need Resilient Transportation Systems

Perhaps the best tweet I have read all year was Taras Grescoe's of a few weeks ago:

grescoeTaras Grescoe/Screen capture

In less than 140 characters, he is summarizing what we have to do to build a resilient transportation network. He left out walking, which is a key part of any resilient system. Craig Applegath explains at

Resilient neighbourhoods will provide the needs of daily living, within walking distance (a quarter mile radius).

Resilient communities, will reduce their carbon footprint by ensuring people opt to walk or cycle, instead of using a car. To achieve this, destinations must be accessible within a pleasant walking distance – people should be able and willing to walk from home to work, to school, to shop, to recreate, and to engage the activities of their everyday life. Longer distances should be achievable through transit.

Connectivity is central to making an area pedestrian oriented. Streets and pedestrian walkways must be enjoyable to walk, must link key destinations, and must operate at a fine scale. Communities must also be compact and concentrate a critical-mass of people and activities to support walking, and to support animated and vibrant place-making.

86th streetTwitter/Screen capture

Even Metros or Subways are not resilient enough in the face of such disasters as this; Manhattan is pretty much cut off as the subway tunnels are full of water. It is going to be harder getting through this for Manhattan residents than it might have been a few decades ago; there is no meat in the meatpacking district anymore, everything has moved to Jersey. There are no fish in the Fulton Street Fish Market; it's moved to the Bronx, its former digs turned into a sad tourist attraction.

broadwayLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

New York has done more than just about any city anywhere to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians with its bike lanes and car-free Broadway. It will be interesting to see how much they are used in the next few days as the City recovers. But the real message is that every city needs a mix of modes of transport, a mix of living and working and shopping uses, and that there needs to be a mix of sources for all the things we need to survive, from urban farms to local meatpackers and even breweries, that we can't keep relying on centralized mega-plants half a continent away.

The Weather Reminds Us Why We Need Resilient Transportation Systems
The most resilient modes are walking and biking; we have to design our cities to promote them.

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