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Communities moving toward sustainable mobility
Why talk about mobility?
Mobility is defined as a person’s ability to move no matter what transportation mode is used. Mobility involves accessibility and includes the transportation system (how to get around), urban planning, the social and economic status of individuals and the places where they live, work and play.
The sustainable model steers us toward efficient, equitable and energy-efficient mobility that reduces environmental impact and promotes economic development. The vision proposed by sustainable mobility offers citizens more options for getting around, makes reaching our destinations quicker and easier and promotes transportation modes with a low carbon footprint.
What about urban planning?
Creating attractive and sustainable communities and making optimal use of urban development space is a priority for the metropolitan area. It is at the heart of the Plan métropolitain d’aménagement et de développement (PMAD, or in English, Metropolitan Land Use and Development Plan) by the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), which promotes the key role that an efficient, reliable and frequent transportation system plays in shaping urbanization.
To attain the objectives outlined by the region within the PMAD, two crucial conditions must be met. First and foremost, urban planning must be developed around entry points to the high-performance transit network. Second, the quality of services must be improved to meet growing transportation demands and needs. By strategically planning urban development, more citizens can have easier access to sustainable modes of transportation. At the same time, the demand created by a greater concentration of activities will allow the frequency and hours of service offered to be increased.
The overall approach to population growth within the territory is determined by an urban perimeter, beyond which any expansion or development is prohibited. Therefore, future entry points to the planned public transportation system must be within this limit and promote the development therein.
In summary, as we shift toward sustainable mobility and create new reference points in urban planning for the region, planning activity centres, consolidating growth and integrating public transit facilities are a matter of interest to citizens as well as public authorities. So, how can we make our daily trips faster and more sustainable?
Sustainable mobility at the heart of land-use planning for the region
A new vision of planning
For several decades now, cars have influenced how cities have been developed. They have exacerbated problems that have now become a genuine source of frustration for citizens on a daily basis. Traffic congestion, increased distances to get from home to work and the growing need for space and expenses related to transportation systems are the result of a vision of urban planning defined by the car.
In many major cities around the world, new practices are emerging that offer citizens alternatives to the car. Increasingly, we are seeing more compact complete communities geared toward active and public transportation being promoted for their many advantages. They offer better access to an array of neighbourhood services and activities, easier and shorter travel options and, lastly, optimal use of space and resources.
Increasing population density: an asset for sustainable mobility
A compact and complete urban environment underpins a high performance structuring transit network because it ensures high passenger capacity, just as an efficient public high performance transit network supports greater density and diversity of activities in neighbourhoods. When a large number of homes and jobs are located within walking distance to the public transportation system, the entire region benefits from better access. The metropolitan region has established a goal of steering 60% of demographic growth - anticipated from now until 2031 - around entry points to the metropolitan high performance transit network, designed according to Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) principles.
Of course, the quality of transportation services offered is a key factor in the success of TOD neighbourhoods. This proposal also works for neighbourhoods where the density, urban connectivity and diversity of activities reduces the need for cars and encourages mobility based on active and public transportation. Regional planning for public transit contributes to the success of a TOD-oriented development strategy by promoting initiatives and projects that support a high performance transit network. This then creates the virtuous circle of sustainable mobility.
The municipal sector: a key player in sustainable mobility
Municipal representatives are key players in developing truly integrated land use and transportation plans. With their in-depth knowledge of the particularities of their respective regions and their residents, municipalities, the MRCs (regional county municipalities) and agglomerations possess the policy levers and planning tools to help resolve local mobility issues.
Entry points to public transportation
Harmoniously integrating public transit facilities into the urban fabric and the neighbourhoods they serve encourages the development of public transit-oriented neighbourhoods. Designing avant-garde public transit facilities helps provide users with a quality experience; in turn, they become recognizable and inviting places for all citizens. For example, the reception area of a public transit service facility can also act as a public space for the neighbourhood. To ensure that is sustainable and dynamic, special attention must be paid to its architecture. In general, a well-planned public transit facility can contribute to the vibrancy of a neighbourhood.
I consider myself lucky to be able to do everything on foot or by bus and metro, including school, daycare and work!
Attractive public transportation facilities
Comfort, efficiency and safety are all elements that affect the design of different types of facilities. Ergonomics, the quality landscape architecture and urban furniture, ease of access and user safety are all factors that come into play. All these elements combined make for an enjoyable, efficient and safe travel experience.
Transit facilities that adhere to sustainable development principles must be designed with a view to reducing the ecological footprint, optimizing energy consumption, minimizing disturbances and protecting the natural heritage.
Diverse modes to access facilities
Sustainable mobility provides citizens with more options for getting around, makes getting from point A to point B quicker and more accessible and promotes low-carbon modes of transportation.
The importance given to sustainable mobility today must translate into how public transit facilities are designed to make accessing the public transportation no matter what the mode is used—walking, biking, public transit, taxi, carsharing or single occupant car—or type of clientele. Above all, the design should promote active or public transportation. Pedestrian, bike and road networks as well as the urban environment where public transit facilities are located also needs to be considered. Special attention must be paid to designing pedestrian access to train stations, bus terminals and métro stations in dense and diversified urban neighbourhoods. The design of park-and-ride lots in expanding suburban areas would include access by car. However, these facilities must be smoothly integrated and not hamper development projects designed to increase the population density and land-use diversity in these sectors.
Priority access modes to the public transportation system
Special attention must be paid the needs of pedestrians for getting around. Walking must be considered a form of transportation in itself, and the common denominator of intermodal transportation. In fact, no matter what type of public transit passengers use, they must cover some of the distance on foot.
Likewise, many factors contribute to encouraging biking as a means of accessing the public transportation network. The design of sidewalks and bike paths, improved design of the road network, regular snow removal and safe places to lock up bikes are some of the many incentives to study.
Optimizing feeder bus lines to public transit facilities must also be seen as a viable option over car use for daily trips.
Using public and active transportation as well as alternative mobility such as carpooling, carsharing and bikesharing are among the many options to using personal cars to access a mode of public transportation. By the same token, alternative mobility helps reduce the need to use park-and-rides.
A study will be conducted on how to make optimal use of park-and-ride lots. The focus should not only be on promoting easier access to facilities and potential development based on TOD principles, but also on implementing management guidelines for reducing carbon footprints and heat islands. Air rights that promote property development above parking lots will also be examined.