Efficient Urban Policy/Planning and Air Quality

Hey everybody, the following is a report I wrote for one of last semester’s classes. Overall, it is a fairly simple paper explaining the relationship between a city’s air quality and its functionality. Then, based on that relationship, I explain how they can both be improved simultaneously by utilizing certain urban policy approaches. If that sounds remotely interesting to you, then by all means, please continue reading.

Oh and by the way, don’t worry about the Japanese. It isn’t any additional information, just the translation. 

(Thanks to my tutor, Shintaro Sone, for his help with the translating!)

The Relationship between Transportation and Air Pollution in Cities

In an urban setting, because of the densely populated area, an impact on the environment is inevitable. Of all the different ways in which a city’s presence can pollute the environment, the one that leads to the most diverse and widespread damage is air pollution. Since air pollution cannot be contained, nor can it be cleaned up, it is crucial that measures be taken to regulate the contributing factors. Every city in the world is different, whether it is the geographic location, the main industry, the population size, or the technological level of the country it resides in. Despite those differences, there is a contributing factor that remains constant in every city, one whose importance with regard to the city’s air quality does not change. That factor is transportation and therefore, it is extremely important for urban policy makers to keep this relationship in mind. However, a city’s transportation efficiency does not just affect the air quality, it also has a large role in a city’s functionality as well. Due to this connection, the air quality of a city, along with its functionality, can be improved simultaneously through the careful implementation and use of urban transportation policies.


The harm of air pollution.

Air pollution produced from a city has both local and global effects. It can lead to health issues for inhabitants living in and around the city, and also contributes to global warming. According to the United Nations Population Division, within ten years, over half of the world’s population will be living in an urban area. That means that most of the world’s population could be at risk for air quality related illnesses. With a rate of urban population increase this high, it is important to consider what kinds of effects this will have but more importantly, how to reduce those effects.

Since the top ten cities in car fuel use per person are U.S. cities, this report will use them as its primary example.


都市により生産された大気汚染は、ローカルとグローバルの両方に影響を与える。それは、都市とその周辺の生活住民の健康問題および地球温暖化につながる。United Nations Population Divisionによると、10年以内に世界の人口の半分以上が都市部に住んでいると言われている。それは世界の人口のほとんどが空気の質に関係する病気の危険に、さらされる可能性があることを意味します。都市人口の比率が増加しているとに対して検討することが重要だが、さらに重要なことは空気の質に関係する病気の危険性を低減することである。


The Intercity Commute

Every city relies on its transportation infrastructure in order to function and that infrastructure consists of two main parts; its intercity and intracity transportation systems. The intercity system is what is utilized in order to connect the city with its surrounding suburbs and other cities. For both parts commuting hours are the busiest times however, the most waste comes from the suburban commuters. In the American Community Survey (ACS), detailed commuter data is recorded and in the 2009 collection, the data showed that over 86% of commuters traveled by car, truck, or van and 76% drove alone. Only 5% utilized public transportation systems to commute. Out of 366 metropolitan areas in the United States, only 5 of them have a public transportation commuter rate of over 10%. This kind of commuting behavior is incredibly inefficient, especially considering that when most people commute in their car during rush hour, they are likely to get stuck in traffic congestion. In order to augment these numbers in favor of public transportation, it must first be made more attractive in the eyes of the travelers. To do that, there must be an alternative option; one that is cheap and efficient enough to get people to use it. If an effective rail system was put in place that could handle the volume and was easy enough to use, it could provide an alternative option. The rail system would need to have a substantial network to reach all areas of the city’s surroundings, would need to have frequent departure times, high travel speeds, and be reliable.

The overall goal is to reduce the amount of cars being driven, since they are the main cause of the air pollution problem. But despite their harm to the environment, they are likely to continue being used so it is important to take steps to increase their travel efficiency as well. This can be done by using census data to determine which direction the bulk of commuters travel from and using that information, decide which roadway is most heavily used. Once determined, the roadway should be improved in order to handle the volume of cars using it. This way travel speeds are increased and congestion is reduced.

The results of these two options being implemented would be less cars on the road, a more sustainable means of transportation being implemented, and a more efficient commute for the remaining cars. This means less fuel being consumed and therefore less emissions contributing to the pollution.


すべての都市において都市機能は、都市内と都市間の輸送システムの交通インフラに依存している。都市間の輸送システムは、その周辺の郊外や他の都市と都市を接続するために利用されている。都市内と都市間の移動において、通勤時間は 混雑する時間であるが、最も無駄なものは郊外から通勤する人からなる燃料である。2009年のAmerican Community Survey (ACS)のデータによると、通勤者の86%以上は車やトラック、バンで通勤しており、そのうち76%が一人で運転していることが明らかになった。わずか5%が通勤に公共交通機関を利用している。米国内366の都市のうち5つの都市においてのみ、10%以上の公共交通機関の通勤率を持っています。特にほとんどの人々は、ラッシュアワー時に自分の車で通勤することで、交通渋滞に巻き込まれ停止する可能性があることを考えると、信じられないほど効率的ではない。公共交通機関を支持し、公共交通利用率を増加させるためには、まず第一にその都市を訪れる旅行者にとって魅力的なものにならなければならない。これを行うためには、安価で効率的に使うことができるなければならない。もし鉄道システムを設けることで、多くの人がそれを簡単に利用することができるならば、代替オプションを供給することができる。鉄道システムは、都市周辺のすべての地域に到達するために十分なネットワークを持っている必要があります。さらには、頻繁な出発時刻、高い移動速度、および信頼性を持っている必要があります。



The Intracity System

A city contains a dense populous that requires an infrastructure that can support it. For the same reason it is also important to ensure the means of support is a sustainable one as well. The main way to ensure this is to provide multiple convenient alternative means of travel besides the car. Through this, the volume of cars in the city can be reduced, leading to higher city air quality and functionality.

The first step is to ensure the availability of a cheap, efficient, and reliable public transportation system. Frequent trains and subways should be utilized to connect all the major areas of the city, and busses to connect any other part of the city not reached by the rail system. Frequency and economy are the means by which to draw users to the public transportation system, cleanliness and reliability are the means by which to maintain it.

Another important step in improving intracity transportation is the roadway. A common mistake is that roadways do not have accommodation for bicycles, which in turn discourages their usage in cities. Making the necessary accommodations while simultaneously improving the quality of the inner-city roads will lead to increased bicycle usage in cities and also less hazardous car usage. In addition, establishing an efficient traffic light system can lead to reduced traffic congestion. Badly timed traffic lights have a large impact on congestion along with poor road quality. Focusing on these factors as well as the public transportation system will help improve the city’s air quality through efficiency.





Influencing the Transition

In order to make full use of these changes, it is important that people take advantage of the systems. As was stated previously, in order to reduce the amount of cars on the road, a more attractive alternative method must be introduced. In addition to ensuring fast, efficient, and reliable service within the public transportation system, other means can be employed to make it the better option. Through incentives and advertisement, the public transportation system can be promoted and solitary automobile transportation can be discouraged. These incentives can include things like subsidized fairs or cost efficient rail passes for frequent use. It is also important to spread the knowledge of the systems through public advertisements. Additional taxes and cost penalties should be applied to car users in the form of tolls on the major roadways leading to the city, and in the form of taxes on inner-city fuel purchases. Carpooling should also be encouraged through the implementation of traffic lanes exclusive for passenger vehicles with more than one person.


これらの変化を最大限に活用するためには、 人々が公共交通システムを活用することが重要です。以前に述べたように、道路上の車の量を減らすためには、より多くの魅力的な代替法が導入されなければならない。公共交通システムの中で、高速で効率的、かつ信頼性の高いサービスを確保することに加えて、以下の手段により、良い選択をすることができます。インセンティブや広告を使用することにより、公共交通システムを促進することができ、一人乗りでの自動車移動の抑制となる。これらのインセンティブとは、頻繁に使うための政府の助成による割引券や鉄道チケットのコスト効率を図ることである。公共広告を通じて公共交通システムの知識を広めるためことも重要である。また、自動車利用者に都市へ通じる主要道路の利用や、都心部での燃料の購入にかかる税金という形で、追徴課税とコストペナルティが適用されるべきである。複数の人が乗る乗用車のために、車線の排除の実行を、相乗りを通じて推奨されるべきである。


If the transformation of the city infrastructure is successful, the amount of cars being used to get to the city and inside the city will reduce along with pollution-causing emissions. In addition, with less cars and a better infrastructure, transportation to, from, and within the city will be easier and more efficient. With the revenue created by continued car usage, upkeep and improvements for the public transportation system can be paid for. With an efficient alternative to driving in place, more stringent restrictions on car use and continued air quality improvement will become possible.


もし都市のインフラの転換に成功すれば、 都市に向かう自動車と市内を移動する自動車の減少とともに自動車の排出量も減少するだろう。加えて、少ない自動車の交通量や優れたインフラにより、都市からや都市まで、都市の中の交通はより簡単に、より効率的になる。継続的な自動車の使用状況によって作成された収入を使って、公共交通システムための維持と改善に対して支払うことができる。効率的な代替手段は現在存在するので車の使用にもっとより厳格な制限と継続的な大気質改善が可能となる。

My Interest in This Topic

Ever since I was a child, I have loved nature and the environment, and ever since I began my college studies, my desire to help preserve those things has been a motivation and inspiration for the focus of my studies. However, for many years of my life, I have been either living in or very close to the major United States city of Philadelphia, and because of that I also began to love the city environment as well. With these two cares in mind, I am always receptive to new ideas on how to improve both. Studying in Japan has helped me gain many new perspectives and ideas, many of which are related to my interests, especially this relationship discussed in my report between the city and the environment. My focus of study at the University of Toledo is Civil Engineering with a focus on environmental sciences and renewable energy and so, the topic of free space analysis is very relevant; not necessarily the economic and political aspects of the subject, but the applications which can be utilized to make a difference.




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