On March 14th, Penn IUR and the Department of City and Regional Planning, School of Design celebrated the launch of “Beyond Mobility: Planning Cities for People and Places” by Penn IUR Faculty Fellows Erick Guerra, Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning School of Design, and Stefan Al, Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning, School of Design, and Penn IUR Scholar Robert Cevero, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California-Berkeley. This urban book talk hosted Erick Guerra as he went in depth with Beyond Mobility, which is about prioritizing the needs and aspirations of people and the creation of great places.
Guerra spoke to the central argument of the new publication: balancing the needs of mobility and places in an era where planning cities focus on purely mobility, neglecting people and place. Cities should focus outward in the form of better communities by means of traffic safety, social networks, and physical activity; better environments with localized pollution and GHG emissions advocacy; and better economies by focusing on land values, productivity, and infrastructure costs, he argues. This can be done by rethinking how projects are planned and designed in cities and suburbs at multiple geographic scales, from micro-designs (such as parklets), corridors (such as road-diets), and city-regions (such as an urban growth boundary). By looking outside the box through various perspectives, Guerra aims to highlight a more holistic approach to transit-oriented design.
Throughout the evening, Guerra spoke to the future of creating more socially inclusive and just spaces - a significant challenge, particularly in the Global South where low and middle-income countries seek sustainable futures for their cities and regions. He spoke about the progression of new technology, such as ridesharing, self-driving vehicles, 3D printing and freight, that, if equitably distributed, could change the workforce and transform places for the better.
Questions following the discussion highlighted the realization that we have the potential to be less dependent on mobility than we thought we did, and by looking at it through different perspectives and outlets, as is highlighted in the book, we can reconstruct our notion of what it means to travel through space and time. The concluding lessons learned acknowledged that residents aren’t always advocates for “better mobility,” and that there is a large disconnect between transportation accessibility and low-income communities - not only in the Global South. By taking these challenges in the context of mobility and place, communities and planners have the opportunity to create better cities, environments, and economies.