go to the WEBSTRADE home page TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURES AND TOWN PLANNING POLICIES Orientations and innovative experiences of the new culture of sustainability (1)

text and translation by Giuseppe Di Giampietro, arch.phd (2). Published in URBANISTICA n.o 115, the magazine of the Italian National Urbanism Institute: special issue dedicated to Transport,  to be released in the winter-spring 2001 

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(1)   The paper summarizes the contents developed by the author during an Italian national research (MURST  1997-99, Local Mobility Report, Transports-Urbanism Team, responsible: prof. Giorgio Goggi, coordinators of the search unit: prof. Gian Paolo Corda, prof. Anna Moretti). The search has been granted also with academic funds of the Politecnico di Milano (search program Quality Certification of the Urban Traffic Plans, 1998-2000, responsible: prof. Giorgio Goggi, coordinator of the search unit: prof. Gian Paolo Corda).
. Through a review of the Italian and international literature of the last twenty years we can read the evolution of the relationship between transport infrastructures and the urban environment. In the past years a lot of researchers deeply investigated the relationship between new infrastructures and regional and urban dynamics, particularly analysing the effects of transport investments  (Di Giampietro/CRT 1989; Karrer, editor 1995). Comparing such studies with the present orientations of the research and the practice of planning in the most advanced countries, a clear change of orientation on such themes can be noticed. 
Paradoxically, it almost seems that the view has changed  "from the paradigm of the effects of transport on the land use, to the inverse one of the influence of land use policies on the mobility system and commuting, and therefore on transport infrastructures". Actually, in the most innovative experiences in Europe and America, almost everywhere this change of point of view has accompanied the rise and consolidation of the new paradigms of sustainability and the idea of integration between transport and land use policies, of traffic reduction and traffic calming. Some countries are experimenting policies of the reduction of parking standards, or town planning policies oriented to the integration of functions and land uses able to reduce the mobility demand and the dependence on the car.  In several countries attention is paid on the impact evaluation of works and actions on the traffic and the mobility, and the practice of Transport Assessment is rising (France L. 95-101, UK Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997, USA The Ahwahnee Principles 1994). 
In the second part of the article the importance of regulations and standards for the development of innovation and quality in the design of roads is analysed, giving the results of a national research  (3).

the land use - transport relationship

the 1997 road traffic reduction act in Britain

maximum parking standards 

the french highway act (Barnier-Dupont)

the design of  boulevards urbains

the New Urbanism in America

TOD developments

design guidelines

. . .The new paradigms of the relationship between transport and land uses
. .
(2) Giuseppe Di Giampietro
arch, phd,  contract researcher at  the DST-Politecnico di Milano is responsible for  the annual continuing education courses The Design of Roads and Roundabouts, inside the Permanent Education Program of the Politecnico di Milano  (http://formperm.elet.polimi.it/)
He is also administrator of the documentation centre  Webstrade Archives and of the homonym e-magazine with the relative Internet sites 
(http://www.webstrade.it/ )

(3)  Among the final products of the MURST research are some operative tools, defined inside the same search, that can contribute to update the culture of design of roads towards a sustainable mobility approach: the Road Design Regulations Archive on CD ROM (Archivio Normative Strade), the Standard Road Design Guidelines (Regolamento Viario tipo) and the electronic tools for their dissemination (The Internet site http://www.webstrade.it/, with the relative electronic magazine released to a mailing list of more than 2.000 Italian readers). All these tools help the knowledge of the best Italians and foreigners norms, experiences, handbooks, and meaningful case studies; they also help their dissemination outside the university. An useful tools, studied particularly to give operative power at local level is the Standard Road Design Guidelines, which is a regulation tools imposed by an Italian national Act to which the law attributes a role of control in the design and management of the road space and that can become strategic for urban and transport planning  (Corda-Di Giampietro, 2000)

. In the United Kingdom the evaluation of impact and the control of coherences and compatibility between transport investments and land use policies are requested in the proposals appraisal of a new infrastructure (Guidance on the New Approach to Appraisal of Road Investments Proposals, DETR 1998). But an evaluation of the impacts along with an integrated planning are also requested in the proposals of big building complexes, for which the evaluation should analyse the consequences the construction will have on the system of the mobility (the Transport Impact Assessments, in the United Kingdom).
The same attention, although with a different approach, is paid in France compiling the “Plan d'Occupation du Sol” of the zones along the expressways and arterial roads, according to the 1995 Protection of roads Act (France, L.95-101).
Besides, in the planning of new development proposals a multifunctional choice of uses is often recommended in order to reduce the mobility demand, assuring accessibility with modal alternatives to the car, and to improve the social integration of the new complexes (Guidelines for the Design of the Interchanges, DETR 1994, Places Streets and Movement: a Companion Guide  to Design, DETR w.d.).
Therefore, the project of new big buildings will have to deal in a sustainable manner with the   mobility and transports systems and diminish the car dependence.

planning in Italy

the land use tranport plan integration 

sustainability in local plans 

... more 
in the Italian paper


. The hope to push forward the local development and the expectations of economic regional growth, which were attributed to the realization of new infrastructures in the past, are less and less central in the evaluation of big transport infrastructures proposals. Requests for a traffic reduction are made more precise and definite to limit the development of new infrastructures, and also in the case these are planned to be built, however they have to respect the criteria of compatibility, sustainability and integration with the other land use policies.
. . .
the 1997 road traffic reduction act in the UK . In the United Kingdom the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 ordered the local authorities to prepare a plan for traffic reduction, with the listing of objectives, strategies, criteria, measures and planning policies to reach such objectives. Reducing the construction of new roads and a better use of the existing ones are among the stated priorities.

A recent paper of the English Government (DETR, Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport, 1999) takes up position for integration between transport policies and land use planning, above all in local planning, with these primary objectives: 

  • to promote  more sustainable choices of transport; 
  • to reduce the necessity of moving, and particularly, the use of the private car. 
Such policies contribute to a global strategy for the sustainable development; they are directed also to the promotion of social inclusion in urban and rural areas, and to the revitalisation of the centres of cities and countries as places where to live.
policies for traffic reduction . Among the principal strategies of local land use planning, which are indicated by the English paper, there are: 
  • Integration between land use and transport choices (and investments)
  • Concentration of transport demand in the urban centres, and around the principal junctions of the transit system 
  • Pedestrian and by bicycle accessibility to the daily use equipments
  • Concentration of residential density and other uses in the existing urban areas, accessible by modes alternative to the private car
  • Concentration of functions around the centres of services as focuses of settlements in rural areas
  • Revision (reduction) of parking standards and (increase) of parking pricing
  • Priority for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit (more road space; reserved lanes)
  • Greater attention to the accessibility of the disabled people and the weaker users of the road
  • Protection of corridors and transport junctions, for the safeguard of future choices.
. . .
maximum allowed parking standards . For instance, among the land use regulations that influence the transport system, recommendations to national level have brought the revision of parking standards for new developments in the United Kingdom, moving them from the notion of minimum requested to that one of maximum allowed. The adopted standards are finalized to the reduction of the dependence on the car and to promote sustainable transport choices in the big building proposals, with a realistic sizing, tested and to a large extent already in use at local level, to which the economic activities and the consumers can adapt without traumas (Tab. 1, from DETR-UK 1999). 
Along with the new parking standards the thresholds are fixed beyond which the redaction of impact studies of the proposal over the transport system begin compulsory (Transport Impact Assessments). 
Tab. 1  Maximum Parking Standards  in the United Kingdom (from DETR 1999)
National Maximum Parking Standard: 
1 space per square meter (m2) of gross floorspace unless otherwide stated
Threshold Above which Standard Applies

(gross floorspace) (1)

Food retail
1 space per 18-20 m2
1.000 m2
Non food retail
1 space per 20-22 m2
1.000 m2
Cinemas and conference facilities
1 space per 5 seats
1.000 m2
D2 including leisure
1 space per 22-25 m2
1.000 m2
B1 including offices
1 space per 35 m2
2.500 m2
To be considered further, but as a general guide:
1 space per 4 staff + 
1 space per 3 daily visitorsi
2.500 m2
Higher and further education 
To be considered further, but as a general guide:
1 space per 2 staff 
(any parking for students should be provided within this overall figure)
2.500 m2
1 space per 15 seats 
1.500 posti seduti

(1)       The same thresholds are the limits above wich a Transport Assessments will be required, to evaluate the impact of major development proposals on the mobility and parking system of  the area. The  Transport Assessments will replace the existing system of Traffic Impact Assessments.   In addition we expect the threshold for Transport Assessment  for the following typologies will be :
    B2  Industry, for 5.000 m2 of gross floorsopace 
    B8  Distribution and Wharehousing , for  10.000 m2 of gross floorsopace
    Housing developments, 100  dwellings.
. . .Integrating transports and land use policies

the Barnier Dupont highway Act in France
From the urban planning point of view, the most meaningful experiences, as the French law 95-101 (named "Barnier-Dupont Act"), have set the attention of planners to the risk that the big transport infrastructures become environmental detractors for the crossed zones; but they have also shown the potentiality of the infrastructures as planning occasions for the qualification of the same zones and to strengthen the settlement system.  The recent French suburban roads protection Act (regarding those roads not yet jeopardized by the curtain building), has imposed a no building zone limit over the suburban section of all arterial roads and expressways, along a band 150 to the 200 meters wide from the centre of the road axle, unless, at local level, an executive land use plan is adopted for the development of the same band interested by the infrastructure. The plan is requested to be able to justify the need of transformation for that area, and to analyse the effects of the intervention on the area crossed by road. For the French law the themes to take in consideration are, those of the evaluation of the harmful effects of the road, the safety, the architectural quality, the urban quality, the landscape in the area alongside the road (CERTU 1997 and CERTU 1998). The law has already entered the French Code of urbanism.
Linked to the duties the law has imposed alongside the road protection bands, an interesting reflection on the strategic role of the  "boulevards urbains" in shaping the urban form has been developed in France. These are roads full of traffic but they can increase the value of the facing real properties when they are conceived in relationship to the different urban functions that are present along the road and in relationship with the building and land typologies of the facing properties.
the design of boulevards urbains in France . Definitely, the Act imposes the use of the local land use plan to the City Councils to start any construction (the POS, Plan d'occupation du sol). Finally, the definition of the road and its environment is up to the architects, the town planners, the landscape designers, and not only to the traffic engineers. This means the responsibility of the building typologies, the alignments, the perspective views, the green system of the boulevards and the avenues, if necessary with the presence of the arcades, the pedestrian paths, the convivial public spaces and the space reserved to parking, to local transit, the bicycles, and the cars. 
The interest is finally moved from the space of the road (roadway, benches and the sidewalks) to the space from the road (the road together with a large right of way that arrives to embrace, in France, the settlement system, the city, the landscape, and the adjacent buildings). Moreover, the perception of the road space and from the road is also proposed as a way to control the driver behaviour, to alert him and increase his attention, and therefore, as a mean to increase active safety.
. . .
the New Urbanism in America . An elevated index Veh*Km, Vehicles for travelled Kilometres, is not always an indicator of economic vitality, but, after all, perhaps it is an indicator of an economic and social dysfunction: it points out that people are not where they would like or where they should have to be”, Douglas Kelbaugh says, one of the theorists of the American New Urbanism (Kelbaugh, 1997–p. 36). 
In America as in Europe, the New Urbanism movement has set centrally to the attention of the planner the need to reduce road traffic and the rate of growth of the mobility induced by non-sustainable settlements and land use models. On one hand The Principles of Ahwahnee, 1994, have in some way recalled the contents of a new “Athens Charter ”, of sustainable urbanism in local and regional communities. On the other hand they have pointed out the necessity of integration between the settlements system, transport infrastructures, land uses and the mix of functions, finalized to reduce the necessity of moving and to minimize resources consumption. They are also finalized to increase the value of local resources and of existing natural environment.  The same indications are stated in Europe, in the official papers of the English government (DETR-UK 1999, Planning Policy Guidance 13. Transport).
TOD, transit oriented development . The American movement of New Urbanism, recovering the legacy of the European rationalist urban planning, proposes planning choices and the design of  TOD, Transit Oriented Development, which are structured around the lines of public transport, in order to reduce the necessity of mobility, to increase the quota served by modal alternatives to the private car, and to integrate urban functions (Calthorpe 1993, Kelbaugh 1997). 
design guidelines . The most interesting part of this experience is, nevertheless, the communicative form of the plan, that uses the synthetic graphic language of the Design Guidelines. The purpose is to replace the zoning regulations, complex, prescriptive and restrictive, written from the lawyers and the bookkeepers of the urbanism, with the design guidelines for planning, mostly in graphic format, suggestive of the principles and of the criteria of planning, able to render explicitly, immediately, and in a general manner, the relationship between land use choices, infrastructures and architectural typologies in an area.
. . .
planning in Italy . In Italy indeed, we miss a planning tool able to set in relationship the urban policies and the transport policies, above all at the Municipality level that is the most effective level of the planning. The most important tools, the Structure Local Plan (PRG) and the Urban Traffic Plan (PUT), are dealt only with the physical planning or only with the short management of the traffic. The integration between the plans is almost always limited to a declaration.
The land use plan, which could be very useful for setting in relationship the building permits and land uses with the availability of the different modes of transport, almost always gives up any direct indication, and it sends back, for strategic choices, to other more authoritative hierarchically superior plans, as the Transport Plan and the Regional Structure Plan. But these are competence of other corporate body (Province or Region), they have times, finality and forms of control different from those of urban planning and, operating at regional level, they are ineffective to control the real land use and the management of the mobility system.
. .
the land use transport integration planning  (MTTPR e  PTLV) . In some planning experiences in other countries (MTTPR 1985, Toronto Canada–PTLV 1995, Locarno Switzerland) it is the Transport Regional Plan that analyses the possible land use alternatives in the planning document (the settlement models and the location of residences, places of employment and services, in the different physical forms of centripetal, linear, radiocentric, bipolar, dispersed city…). Such alternatives are compared to the available transport alternatives (the choices of infrastructures and of management: highways, arterial roads, subways, LRT lines, express bus, interchanges…). The most coherent combinations of association between land use choices and transport choices are compared according to a series of evaluation criteria (characteristics of transport demand, costs, socio-economic effects of the choices, environmental impacts, effects on the growth model, phases and feasibility of the model). The evaluation gives a classification of the available alternatives, the analysis of the consequences of each of the choices, and the identification of the interrelations between chosen land use model and choices of transport, in a rational and transparent approach to the planning process. 
. . .
sustainability in local plans . Nevertheless, at local level in Italy planning is moving in the direction of sustainability, that is towards the integration between transport and land use policies and the evaluation of the effects of new developments on the mobility; although national regulations for traffic reduction and specific policies for traffic calming neither specific technical norms have not been issued yet. 
The updating of these regulations and the setting-up of manuals and design guidelines for planning has been one of the contributions of the MURST search on this theme.  (Archivio Normative WebStrade su CD ROM, 1999-2000).
. . a problem of common language 
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... more 
in the Italian paper
. In the second part of the article the importance of regulations and standards for the development of innovation and quality in the design of roads is analysed, giving the results of a national research  (3).
. .
. . . .
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