By Dom Nozzi
Andres Duany has made the essential point that specialists are killing cities. Conventional traffic engineers, for example, specialize in the narrow needs of how to design a road for maximizing car movement – and very little else. Many civil engineers produce scenes such as what is shown in the photo at right. As specialists, many such engineers have only one task: Move stormwater as fast as possible to reduce flooding.
Instead, we need traffic engineers who have the training (and permission from their community leaders) to incorporate the needs of walkers, lovers, bicyclists, transit users, seniors, children, admirers of quality urbanism, and others so that the street is a lovable, quality experience for more than just someone who is in a hurry while driving a car. Traffic engineers need to know urban design and architecture, which includes an understanding of human psychology (so that the engineer understands what designs will produce various forms of human behavior and human affection).
More so than most any profession, traffic engineers profoundly shape the quality of our community – positively or negatively. They must therefore be generalists, not (car-happy) specialists. The fact that the vast majority of them have been the latter goes a long way towards explaining why so many of our (mostly more recent) communities are so lacking in charm or lovability.
In sum, we need a paradigm shift in how we train traffic engineers. And town planners (the failed profession of public town planning is the subject of another blog I need to write).
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
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