Blog October 4, 2012
Canada is poised to be a world leader in the future of urban transportation and design
(Photo: Courtesy Urban Strategies Inc.)
By Hunter Tura, President and CEO, Bruce Mau Design and Panellist for Innovation Talks: Energy
One of the most exciting aspects of working at Bruce Mau Design is having the opportunity to visit many different parts of the world, where we are exposed to various forms of transportation and urban design, and the ways each system differs from one geographic location to the next.
In Saudi Arabia, for instance, intermodal transportation hubs, coupled with planned urban developments in the name of economic diversification, are helping to transform the Saudi economy, culture and society.
Intermodal transportation is the movement of people or freight from one mode of transport to another, with hubs designed for connecting. For instance, a good model of intermodal transportation should allow a commuter moving from point A to point B to connect by water, and then connect to point C by rail, before making the final stretch of journey by road. This reduces travel time and cost typically associated with an overreliance on a network of congested roads.
Similarly, the new network of high-speed railways and airports in China, is allowing for a new kind of mobility among China’s growing middle class. One of the most striking developments in China over the last several years is the “Straddling Bus,” which debuted at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo in May, 2011. This concept—where an elevated bus on rails literally glides over lanes of traffic on existing highways—is striking in its simplicity and ingenuity.
On the other hand, while there are many exciting developments globally at the moment, there is also cause for concern. For every light rail system, pedestrian greenway or bike path built in North America, there are low-efficiency high-emission traffic snarls in most cities in the developing world. Even in the United States, the economic difficulties experienced on both a local and national level have made it difficult to maintain the existing transportation networks (in many cases designed and built in the 1950s), much less invest in innovative new models. While there are many potentially exciting developments in the energy sector in the US, transportation systems are largely inefficient and unsustainable.
In Canada, we have the rare opportunity to take a leading role in innovative proposals for new energy-efficient transportation models. Canada is already one of the world's leading manufacturers of mass transportation modules (buses, train cars, airplanes). Given Canada's relatively stable growth and a general commitment to planned urban strategies, Canada could potentially pull together a set of best practices from around the world, to become a leader and innovator in sustainable transportation models.
This is why we are excited to be a part of the Innovation Talks, which are part of the MOVE: Transportation Expo at Evergreen Brick Works. This series of presentations and panel discussions explored a diverse range of creative transportation solutions for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, which can be applied to infrastructure and urban design projects around the world. We will be part of the panel in the fifth and final talk, taking place Tuesday, October 9, on Energy and its role in fuelling our future.