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Rail and the City

Rail and the City: Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Urban Space

Roxanne Warren
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Rail and the City
    Book Description:

    The United States has evolved into a nation of twenty densely populated megaregions. Yet despite the environmental advantages of urban density, urban sprawl and reliance on the private car still set the pattern for most new development. Cars guzzle not only gas but also space, as massive acreage is dedicated to roadways and parking. Even more pressing, the replication of this pattern throughout the fast-developing world makes it doubtful that we will achieve the reductions in carbon emissions needed to avoid climate catastrophe. InRail and the City, architect Roxanne Warren makes the case for compact urban development that is supported by rail transit. Calling the automobile a relic of the twentieth century, Warren envisions a release from the tyrannies of traffic congestion, petroleum dependence, and an oppressively paved environment. Technical features of rail are key to its high capacities, safety at high speeds, and compactness -- uniquely qualifying it to serve as ideal infrastructure within and between cities. Ultimately, mobility could be achieved through extensive networks of public transit, particularly rail, supplemented by buses, cycling, walking, car-sharing, and small, flexible vehicles. High-speed rail, fed by local transit, could eliminate the need for petroleum-intensive plane trips of less than 500 miles.Warren considers issues of access to transit, citing examples from Europe, Japan, and North America, and pedestrian- and transit-oriented urban design. Rail transit, she argues, is the essential infrastructure for a fluidly functioning urban society.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32562-2
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Transportation Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 Perceptions of Cities and Rail, and a Changing Paradigm
    (pp. 1-34)

    It is natural for an architect to be immersed in issues of transportation planning, since transportation is a central component of urban planning and design—urbanism—which is the embodiment of architecture at the maximum scale. At the same time, it is essential that urbanism be conceived with deference to the much larger-scale environment of the planet.

    This book had its beginnings in a theoretical urban design project for the reconstruction of the center of the small pre-auto-age town of Mount Vernon, New York. In the development of a program of space allocation for new office, retail, and residential facilities,...

  6. 2 The Parking Challenge to Compact and Affordable Transit-Oriented Development
    (pp. 35-70)

    If space for the parking of cars can be diminished as the main design challenge, then endless possibilities will open up for more environmentally friendly, people-friendly design. The results can also be appreciably more affordable for those living on limited budgets.

    Noted in chapter 1 were the relatively high densities of development that are needed to justify and sustain regular, high-quality systems of public transit—a subject that was explored in depth by Boris Pushkarev and Jeffrey Zupan in their 1977 book,Public Transportation and Land Use Policy.¹ Compact, mixed-use development can at the same time allow a large portion...

  7. 3 Transit Options and the Unique Features of Rail
    (pp. 71-116)

    When railways were first introduced in the streets of New York in 1832, it very quickly became obvious to the operators of horse-drawn omni-buses that with the extremely low rolling resistance of steel-on-steel contact, their horses could pull heavy loads of passengers much more easily over rails than over rough pavement. From that day forward, rail technology, in its various forms, has proven to be uniquely qualified as the transportation infrastructure essential to the fluid functioning of cities.

    As remarked by urban transportation expert Dr. Vukan R. Vuchic, the invention of the first railway by George Stevenson in England in...

  8. 4 Easing Access to Rail
    (pp. 117-150)

    With our already widely dispersed development in the United States, how convenient and even relevant can networks of public transport be made for significant numbers of suburban residents? And can the issues of access to transit stations that were cited in chapters 1 and 2—including the dominance of the space around rail stations by park-and-ride lots—be effectively resolved?

    Despite resurgent trends toward urban living and the increased use of transit, it is estimated that there are still only six million US households living near rail transit stations, or about 2 percent of the country’s total population.¹ Even if,...

  9. 5 Different Speeds for Different Settings
    (pp. 151-162)

    In March 2007, a motorist from Connecticut was arrested for driving along Interstate 684 at a speed of 142 mph (229 km/h), his car tires smoking as he slammed on the brakes. On the same road in 2006 and 2007, three other drivers were stopped for speeding at more than 130 mph (209 km/h). Seven more motorists were recorded reaching speeds of more than 130 mph during that period in nearby Westchester, Rock-land, and Putnam counties. These incidents were extreme enough to have been reported in the local newspapers; however, less flagrant, but nonetheless potentially deadly examples are commonplace along...

  10. 6 Urban Design for Pedestrian- and Transit-Oriented Cities
    (pp. 163-220)

    With growing populations throughout the world being increasingly drawn to the cities, both the scale and the pace of city streets need to be more thoughtfully designed, since they are the most plentiful part of the urban commons. It is worth examining some fundamental features that have distinguished the very best of European city planning and design: (1) the basically democratic principle of designing city streets for pedestrians and cyclists, as the most vulnerable users of the streets, and (2) the favoring of walking and cycling as the most environmentally sustainable modes of travel. This latter orientation has only been...

  11. 7 A Market to Match Ecological Truths
    (pp. 221-252)

    In the search for immediately profitable sources of energy, driven in large part by a relentless demand for automotive fuel, humanity needs first to decide whether it is willing to further risk the health of the planet, its climate, and its oceans and aquifers. In accommodating economic growth, we must first come to terms with the fact that the earth’s geological and biological resources are finite and being rapidly degraded and depleted—and act more decisively toshrinkthe very large footprint that we are placing on the earth.

    Extreme and record-breaking storms, floods, heat, droughts, and related wildfires worldwide...

  12. Abbreviations
    (pp. 253-254)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 255-296)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 297-304)
  15. Index
    (pp. 305-314)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 315-318)