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Sustainable mobility discussed at U-M Earth Day Teach In

March 21, 2010

A massive investment in transportation, both at the household and infrastructure levels, poses a fundamental challenge for the future, said UMTRI Director Peter Sweatman during a breakout session on Sustainable Accessibility at the University of Michigan Earth Day Teach-In on March 25.

The challenge--to evolve to a cleaner, more accessible system of mobility--won't be easy, but cities that offer a suite of multi-modal personal transportation options are making progress.

"We need great livable cities," said Sweatman. "We all know one when we see one." He added that cars will still be a part of this landscape, but they'll be "less at the whim of individuals and more akin to autonomous vehicles."

Reinventing urban mobility will require social innovation in transportation policy, said panel member Jonathan Levine, professor and chair of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. "We won't get there with technological innovation alone," he said.

The third member of the panel on Sustainable Accessibility, Irving Salmeen of the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, also stressed the idea that cultural values will guide future changes in transportation and that we need to be open to diverse solutions.

Other panel sessions at the Teach-In focused on Food and Human Health; Great Lakes and Water Resources; and Climate and Energy.

Read the full article in the Record Update. See Teach-In puts focus on complex environmental problems.