The Ten Simple Rules of Balanced Urban Transportation Planning, by Hartmut Topp

These transportation planning rules only seem to be simple, their application is indeed a difficult job. But often simplification helps in the discussion and enforcement of environmental requirements.

Rule 1: Make every effort to accommodate the real needs of people. Do not forget the children, the elderly and the disabled. Prepare your plans and programs in cooperation with the public concerned. Urban planning and transportation planning is a social, psychological, economical, ecological, architectural and engineering job.

Rule 2: The prosperity of a city does not depend on private car traffic, but on accessibility in general, on the amenity of its streets and open spaces and – to put it more succinctly – on its genius.

Rule 3: Transportation and land use must be balanced. Mixed land use must be achieved to reduce journey distances. High density with mixed land use is effective from a transportation point of view. But don’t go beyond the limits of the rule.

Rule 4: Mathematical modeling of traffic behavior and traffic volumes is an important preparation for the decision making. But don’t stretch it beyond its limited validity.

Rule 5: Observe the environmental ranking of transportation modes: walking is preferable to cycling, cycling is preferable to public transit, transit is preferable to private car traffic.

Rule 6: Urban Streets are open spaces for the general public. Consider all functions of the street – social life, strolling around, providing access to buildings, as well as being a transportation facility for pedestrians, cyclists, public transit and private car.

Rule 7: With increasing density the needs of traffic regulations and their enforcement grow rapidly. Strict area-wide parking restrictions are the most effective measures to control traffic.

Rule 8: Most important, especially in high density areas, is urban design and architecture according to human scale. The design quality of a street helps to compensate for the environmental impact of car traffic.

Rule 9: The ground level of streets has to be primarily designed for pedestrians and cyclists, including wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and crossways over the driving lanes.

Rule 10: Provide more plantings and trees within the streets, including façade and roof planting, thus opening the sealed street surface, improving street climate and visual impression and hiding bad architecture.

Hartmut Topp, Dipl.-Ing. is Professor (a.D.) of Transportation Planning at the University of Kaiserslautern, GERMANY. He is one of Europe’s foremost transportation planners, having led the Balanced Transportation Planning movement that began in Europe in the 1970s to calm traffic, encourage biking and transit, create pedestrian networks, and make streets once again hospitable to all pedestrians. He is Principal of his own consultation firm and is widely sought as a consultant on transportation planning, traffic calming mechanisms for arterial roads, Complete Streets, pedestrian networks, Wohnstrasse, etc. Hartmut Topp is a Member of the IMCL Advisory Board.

This summary, first published in the IMCL Newsletter February 1987, was presented at the 1st IMCL Conference in Venice, Italy, 1985.