The Transport Land Use Connection Cultural Studies Essay

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Urban planning cannot be studied in isolation. The history of urban planning is the study of city through the various stages of transportation and its impact on urban form. Throughout time, land-use has been intertwined with movement of people and goods that generate economic and social activity in a city. The significance of transport land-use connection can be traced from the times of migration of populations influenced by travel across continents, impact of trade routes (Silk route) to the Far East, transcontinental railroad across America to the travel hubs of today (Polzin 1999). The urban form can be said to be a derivative of the transport network, this has been observed over the years.

As a consequence, today urban planners are using transportation a tool to direct urban development and achieve optimum land-use impacts. This thesis examines the heavy transportation investments are being made for desired urban (re)development schemes in Europe and Asia. However simply developing markets around a transit point will not yield benefits alone. There has to be certain preconditions for desired land-use impacts. Broadly they can be classified as hardware (accessibility improvements in the form of infrastructure), software (favourable policies) and a certain trajectory related promotion and marketing (Table ??). Conversely, before any such investments could have favourable impacts, there must a demand for better accessibility in the first place. If the present infrastructure is enough for the transit capacity then an additional investment will not result in extra profits. Transport investment should bring real improvement to the existing transit network by introducing it to new markets, or bettering the current conditions or providing consumers the choice value. The choice value is a more subjective approach. It deals with playing on the psychology of personal choice or of clicking on to a collective 'buzz'. Like choosing street food (in China) over restaurants. How certain streets are more trendy and hip than others. Moreover, there must be a compelling market to absorb the future improvements. Apart from these two preconditions many other indirect factors are deemed important like urban policy regarding: reduce development costs, increased densities or floor area ratios, reduced impact of development fees, tax incentives, expedited approvals, public assembly of land made available for construction and aggressive marketing. There is no shortage of reasons why or why not certain transportation points will have desirable land-use impacts (Table ??). However a more general outlook reveals that perceptions are reality; and with enough promotion of a certain transportation scheme, at least some of the expectations regarding the land-use impacts can become self-fulfilling prophesies. As the idiom goes, development attracts development (Polzin 1999).

Thus to conclude, transportation influences land-use. This can further be proved by traceing the history of urbanization through the history of transportation. The next chapter deals with a brief history of transportation and its influence on land-use and urban form, in Europe and in China. The intention is to establish the motivations and relevance of this research.

2.1 Transportation and urbanisation history

2.1.1 Transport and Urban Form in Europe (Muller 1986; Schaeffer and Sclar 1975; Huang 1996; Polzin 1999)

The whole process of urbanization and suburbanization as seen in the case of American cities is rather simple and liner in European context. The dense compact innercity core urban areas can still be witnessed in Europe. A major factor is the scarcity of land, another reason being good policy measures to ensure the right direction of city development. Transportation and specifically urban transit has played a major role in the growth patterns of European cities through the ages. It can be summarised as the walking city phase of the preindustrial and pre-mechanical-transportation era of 1800s. Then with the invention of omnibus, street cars and horse coaches came the era of tracked city that lasted till the 1950s as a consequence of excessive use of cars. The last phase can be characterised as the rubber city of automotive era. Below is a summary of evolution.

Walking City: Preindustrial compact cities of Europe. People walked from one place to another and these commutes usually took a maximum time of 30-45 minutes. The cities had a high density of about 100-200 people per hectare (pph). Another characteristics was a mixed land-use development joined together by narrow streets in organic form. This was consistent with Europe as well as the rest of the world, including the third world countries. As people walked from one place to another the city was usually spread in a radius of not more than five kilometres.

Tracked City: The urban form gradually changed with the introduction of omnibus (horse-drawn coach), horse railway and commuter rail-roads in late 1800s and early 1900s. During this time the significance of downtown was heightened as people lived, worked and shopped here. Public transit became further common with the invention of train and tram. The train station became important places for communication and agglomeration of economic activities. This resulted in train stations becoming subcentres and cities developed a polycentric urban form. The developments during this era were along the public transit and thus linear in nature. The downtowns became more dense and mixed-use, while the city grew with medium-density of 50-100 pph. Transportation developments led to a hierarchy of road networks and 'main streets' evolved as more commercial foci of cities. The scale of the city also extended to 20-30 km in radius.

Rubber City: With the advent of cars the city grew more substantially. Invention of engine led to major city expansion as accessibility improved. People could now travel further distances than before which led to decentralization and dispersed city. Town planning began separating functions as per zoning. Growth of suburbanisation and low density housing neighbourhoods in the fringe developed differentiated by income, race, age and education. The scale of the city now extended to almost 50 km in radius with suburbs beyond that point having an extra dimension of isolation from traditional urban functions. As a consequence, for the first time, the transportation land-use connection was broken.

Another discourse leading to similar conclusion was in the backdrop of 21st century, modernism. It propagated a certain functional isolation where transportation, like architecture was severed from urban planning. Architecture, for example, was no more an exercise in urban context with a history or a local community, but an opportunity for architects to 'make a statement'. Similarly transportation too was isolated and planned as mere points of origin and destination, ignoring its land-use connection (Newman & Kenworthy 1996).

2.1.2 Transport and Urban Form in China (GÅ“thals 2011)

Transportation has influenced land-use and subsequently urbanization the same way in China as the rest of the world, albeit on a different timescale. The urbanization of China is special as the rate that it took the rest of the world 100 years to complete, was achieved in China in a mere span of 20 years. This exception reveals many interesting domains of study and deserves a closer look. Any research made for China has to cater to this exception and thus needs a special paradigm for evaluation. Another exception is that the history of urbanization and policy making truly begins in China after the reforms of 1978. Subsequently the phases of urbanisation history with respect to transportation are short and exhibit exaggerated trends. To summarise, cities in China like Shanghai, went from being bike-oriented to car-oriented in a short span of few years. From late 1970s (open door policy starting 1978) to early 1980s when the cities were already planning ring roads and freeways and there was a boom of automobile industry. Heavy influence of cars and investments in urban road infrastructure coupled with decentralization of residential areas acted as a catalyst for a fast growing car-oriented development model. This was made severe by the radiocentric structure of Chinese cities creating additional pressure on traffic management. This phase was characterised by a juxtaposition of limited social and economic units shaped by a short trips oriented mobility.

By the mid-2000s the urgency grew beyond proportions and there was a need for radical measures. This followed massive investments in public rail-transit and transit-oriented development model (theory discussed in the next chapter in detail) superimposed on existing car dominated model. This led to a policy of decentralised concentrations for cities. Shanghai for example adopted a 1-9-6-6 Masterplan for creating new-towns and ease out the built-up and traffic concentrations to new-towns. However today, after 10 years of sustained efforts in both transit-oriented investments and policies, Chinese cities are ushering into an era of intermodality. A combination of fast and slow mobility for favourable land-use impacts. Thus a concise history of urbanization and transportation in China is summarised below.

Bike-oriented city: The phase after the open door policies starting late-1970s to 1980 can be summarised as communities of collectivism. During this phase the authentic structure of Chinese cities was still intact to some extent that of concentrated group of manageable units, separated from the outer barbarian world by walls or roads. The closed community unit functioned as a complete and autonomous socio-economic unit, providing housing, employment and several essential services, called Danwei. During this collectivist period the travel distances were short and convenient to walk or ride on the bicycle. The bicycle soon became the symbol of a planned economy and collectivist society, shaping urban form. A characteristic of which were narrow alleys between dense settlements maneuvered through walking or on bikes, called hutong. However the rapidly changing economy led to construction of large roads networks and city grids, with heavy influence and massive investments in the automobile industry. Thus began the automobile era in China.

Car-oriented cities: Between 1980s to 2000s China following the proactive development of automobile industry, made massive investments in urban road infrastructures. This coupled with decentralization of residential areas due to heavy concentrations led to fast emerging models of more car-oriented cities. With the development of economy and higher purchasing power, the number of cars rapidly grew. This imbalance between number of cars and limited urban roads resulted in problematic traffic management and congestions. The situation was made worse in cities like Beijing with a radiocentric structure and limited avenues for growth. Thus called for urgent transportation initiatives.

By 2000s, the adverse effects of cars was realised and Chinese planners arose to solve the problem through polycentric superimposition. For example, in Shanghai this resulted in the approval the of earlier ideas of Mayor Liangyu Chen, by the Shanghai 1-9-6-6 Comprehensive Masterplan in 2006, a core element of the 11th Five-Year Plan of Shanghai economic and social development. The masterplan steered growth of one central city surrounded by ten new-towns of various foreign origin and special characteristics (like industrial, educational or residential towns). However these emerging subcentres became more and more isolated from the core city-life. While there was good connection from the city to these new-towns via rail, the transit options within these new-towns were limited. This resulted in the excessive use of cars inside the new-towns. The sheer scale and unevenness of urban development pattern led to a fragmented transport land-use connection and suburbanization in the context of China.

Transit-oriented cities: After realising the adverse effects of car, massive investments were made in improving urban transit and national railway services. The transformation of cities after 2000s was directed at transit-oriented development (TOD). The TOD model was superimposed on the existing car-oriented urban layout. Chinese planners aimed to seek better connectivity by the policy of decentralized concentrations, changing in the wake entire urban residential and employment strategy. In Shanghai, for example, this resulted in the approval the of earlier ideas of Mayor Liangyu Chen, by the Shanghai 1-9-6-6 Comprehensive Masterplan in 2006, a core element of the 11th Five-Year Plan of Shanghai economic and social development. The masterplan steered growth of one central city surrounded by ten new-towns of various foreign origin and specialities (like industrial, educational and residential towns). These emerging subcentres became the focus of huge real-estate investments by mixed-use developments, a direct application of TOD. Green spaces and public spaces also emerged, a carry-on from the 'double increase, double decrease'-policy era.

2.2 The New Urbanism

Postmodernism brought in its wake a new approach to urbanism. The New Urbanism movement began putting transport planning back in the context of urban spatial form. The theory advocated an end to suburbia and other adverse consequences of car-oriented planning, by developing along the transit corridors. Making the nodes diverse through mixed land-use development and increase the density of the built environment. The area along the transit node was made especially pedestrian friendly while limiting parking facilities and car's right of way. This would in turn promote public transit and ease down on the congestion.

However the location of the transit node was vital for a desirable urban development (Table ??). An analysis of public transit's impacts on urban development can be built upon the basis of urban location theory by Alonso (1964), Muth (1969) and Mills (1972). Which states that transportation defines the urban form and the duration and convenience of accessibility to a certain point determines its worth (Haixiao 2008). Thus companies (or people) making location decisions choose to be closest to the urban centre (or place of work) with the least rent they have to pay. The rent in the centre is the highest where transportation costs are lowest. And the rent (property value) decreases as one moves away for the city centre. For example the central business district (CBD) in a monocentric city. Accordingly a transit node at the urban centre will have maximum property value of its surroundings while it functions as the market centre from which people travel to or from regionally and from where all activities radiate. This led to more commercial, office and other capital-intensive developments in the vicinity of transit nodes, termed as transit-adjacent developments.

Urban planners and theorists soon followed to maximise these impacts of transportation on land-use by developing along the transit corridors, however, this time oriented towards the transit node itself while using it as a backbone for sustainable future policy making (Katz 1994). Calthorpe (1993) and others began to channel new urban redevelopment along the transit. In the forefront arose the theory of transit-oriented development. At stations there was an attempt to diversify and densify. A pedestrian friendly approach was considered for the larger space with a highly dense and mixed functioning of land-use; with a conscious attempt at creating 'more city within a city' (from the interview: Hamburg Spatial Vision). Bernick and Cervero (1997, p. 5) defined transit-oriented development (TOD) as, "a compact, mixed-use community, centred around a transit station that, by design, invites residents, workers, and shoppers to drive their cars less and ride mass transit more". But an isolated transit node could not sustain the development and a real challenge in cities like Shanghai became to connect the nodes in a larger framework of 'city wide transport development strategy' (Pan and Zhang 2006). The regional TOD network became a 'transit-oriented corridor'. Cervero (1998) recommended that this was the most sustainable pattern of urbanization in megacities of the world leading to a 'Transit Metropolis'.

However, as the mass transit gradually became popular, the development around the nodes grew rapidly and beyond the control of transit companies. Soon a cloud of private-public partnerships emerged. The developments took shape of economic exploitation in the wake of short-term goals of private investors. Transit routes were broken down into profitable chunks and further privatization of networks led to a "splintering urbanism" (Graham and Marvin 2001). As the developments boosted one urban core at the cost of others. The main criticism of TOD was that at its core, it was a market-based concept catering to investor's profits over public accessibility. It led to gratification of lifestyle and business performances creating more plural and heterogeneous spaces. Without public intervention, the romanticised nostalgia of healthy street life, corner stores and regional character could assume the shape of Walk-Mart like big-box stores, generic shopping malls and other instances of capitalist-globalization (Andrusz et al.1996; Polzin 1999; Tsenkova and Nedovic-Budic 2006; Peters and Novy 2012). There was also a lack of discussion on architecture, urban design and the general sense of quality of place. The critiques advocated that TOD encouraged inner-urban gentrification. Edwards (2009, p.23) wrote that, "(TODs) Its limited provision of affordable social housing to rent and its strong provision of corporate office space, has been the main source of conflict […] Regeneration is not seen as primarily a process serving the low- and middle-income people in whose name regeneration policy was developed: rather it is seen […] as essentially a business activity aimed at growth and competitiveness".

2.2.1 Urban Renaissance in Europe

Transit-oriented "New Urbanism" agenda of North America (Calthorpe and Fulton 2001; Cervero 2004; Dittmar and Ohland 2003; Dunphy et al. 2005; Dutton 2000) reached Europe with the corresponding "urban renaissance" discourse, especially in Great Britain (Urban Task Force UK 1999; Bodenschatz 2005; Bodenschatz 2006; Colomb 2007; Peters 2009; Peters and Novy 2012). However paradigm had changed by now with the advent of high speed trains (discussed in detail in the next chapter). High-speed trains gave momentum to urban renaissance agenda by connecting key cities in the process of decentralization, especially within the 500 km. This in turn compounded the impacts of transportation on land-use as large portions of centrally located, station-adjacent land became available for urban redevelopment. The complex urban restructuring process as part of economic globalization led to the paradigm shift in transport and land-use planning. Away from car-oriented, functionally segregated cities towards denser, more walkable and transit-oriented mixed-use settlement patterns.

Macro-level analysis: Global Cities

High-speed trains completely overhauled the transit node as a connection to key cities forming a polycentric metropolis in Europe (Hall and Pain 2006). The cities were now part of a bigger international "network society" (Castells 1996) which led to clustered urban cores as global "command and control centres of economy in times of global cities" (Sassen 1991). The earlier transit node of the pre-high-speed era now achieved complex functions and attributes attached to its mere transport character. The transit node became a place, an address of vast importance, a modern gateway to the city. While the train station itself became a centrally located intermodal hub, the parallel redevelopment of underused adjacent areas led to major urban restructuring in Europe. The phenomena led to development of 'train station area redevelopment mega-projects as key instances of planned, large-scale, strategic interventions into contemporary urban fabric aimed at better connecting and revitalizing key inner-city locales […] representative of the post-industrial restructuring of the urban-cores' (Peters 2009, p.163).

Micro-level analysis: Urban restructuring

The macro-level reorganisation led to future-oriented, post-peak oil, sustainable development agenda in Europe focussing on transit-accessible urban cores. The train stations became highly symbolic spaces for post-Fordist, post-industrial urban restructuring in neoliberal times (Keil 1998; Scott and Soja 1996; Smith 2002; Brenner and Theodore 2002). Urban planners began redevelopment efforts aimed at making these spaces more attractive places to work, live, study, engage in entertainment and recreation (Jacobs 1961). Urban cores were re-gentrified as attractive spaces for business, culture and tourism (Judd and Fainstein 1999; Hoffman et al. 2003; Hannigan 1999) and as prime living and working spaces for the "creative class" (Florida 2002; Trip 2007).

Physical Renaissance

Consequently urban renaissance preceded a physical renaissance of "starchitecture", grandiose-railway mega-projects with strong symbolic meaning and new image of "glitzy high-speed travel hub" (Peters 2009, p.178). An improvement from the earlier TOD model was the attention to urban design quality with a distinct and diverse mixed land-use, as well as a "greater environmental sensitivity and commitment to urbanity" in the planning and implementation of these "new megaprojects" (Diaz Orueta and Fainstein 2008, p.759). These mega-projects came to characterise large shopping malls, stadiums, urban entertainment centres, flagship projects and mixed-use mega-projects situated in grey- and brown-field sites (Moulaert et al. 2005; Salet and Gualini 2007). Star architects were commissioned for designing these stations like: Koolhaas (Euralille Masterplan), Calatrave (Liège-Guillemins), Sir Norman Foster (Dresden) and von Gerkan (Berlin).

However, the planning agenda was misled towards growth and competition rather than removal of slums and blight (Swyngedouw et al., 2004) and exercise in rebranding through commodification of culture into a marketable identity (Hoffman et al., 2003). Further problems arose when urban planners instead became focussed on individual transportation mega-projects and "festivalization" for achieving their goal of urban renaissance (e.g., Carrière and Demazière 2002; Häußermann and Siebel 1993; Peters and Novy 2012). Through optimistic forecasting and part wishful thinking, urban planners had overestimated the role of 'prestige' in these mega-projects leading to heavy cost-overruns (Flyvbjerg et al., 2003; Flyvbjerg et al. 2008).

Critiques on urban renaissance

The emerging mega-projects were highly-complex in terms of costs and unevenly distributed in benefits which resulted in regeneration of city-cores by market-driven profiteering plans. Transit-accessible high-profile areas were upgraded while other areas were downgraded almost in neglect. The resulting inner-city gentrification was an exercise in neoliberal rationalization (Peters and Novy 2012). Heiner Monheim, Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Trier noted that "Political interests and investment power targeted the megaprojects. This results in a very ambivalent situation of a very notable commitment ('all show') on one hand and an otherwise criminal neglect on the other hand ('no substance [beyond beacon projects ]')" (Monheim 2009, p.5; as quoted in Peters and Novy 2012, p.8).

The resulting cityscape was "a combination of urban and networked spaces that are configured precisely to the needs of socioeconomically wealthy groups and so at the same time are increasingly withdrawn from the wider citizenry and cityscape" (Graham and Marvin 2001, p.427). These targeted, re-scaled, customized, special-purpose, and place-specific regulatory interventions led to "premium (or secessionist) network spaces". Public transit was broken into profitable chunks that disintegrated the original intent of a Transit Metropolis, that of a wider regional TOD network (Swyngedouw et al. 2002). Chunks of the transit network and large plots of centrally located transit-accessible land was now at the mercy of big corporations, developers and privatized former railway companies.

Will the rail transit investments fulfil their purposes?