The purpose of transport from its inception to date is to connect people, goods, services and jobs, and the measure of a transport system’s ability to do so can be rated as its ‘accessibility’. As such, transport systems serve a vital role as the key source of functionality for services that support our livelihoods, well-being and economic growth. While the link between good accessibility and economic growth is well established (such as cursory GDP growth factor models) the less easily modelled link between good accessibility and social equity is still lacking in our long-term transport and planning models.
Current trends for road infrastructure development focus on achieving ‘hyper mobility’ (UN-Habitat 2013) the attainment of longer highway km and faster speeds. This research project responds to the call for a return to the original purpose and value of transportation, accessibility, as a means to addressing the sustainability challenges of this century.
Contrary to its popular usage, sustainable development is more than just a climate change buzzword. It is a philosophy of living and developing that endorses intelligent and holistic design. It is also defined by the ‘Our Common Future’ report as: “development that meets the needs of present generations while not compromising the ability of future generations to also meet their needs”. Unfortunately, negligent and human-centred design has led to many of our current threats to sustainability, ranging from resource depletion to loss of biodiversity.
While sustainable development first focused on the link between the environment and economic system, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), in Johannesburg, South Africa, introduced a third ‘pillar’, that of social equity. Together, the three pillars of sustainability, environmental protection, economic development and social equity, are the essential targets to reach for in planning and conducting any development.