How we travel has always determined how we build our cities. Peder Norby foresees a dramatic future shift in our preferred modes of transportation – and with it, a shift in how our cities look and function.
“Change that hasn’t happened in the last 100 years is happening now,” said Norby, one of San Diego County’s most prominent regional planning experts.
Norby, a nationally recognized consultant in sustainable transportation, will host a Dec. 3 morning lecture at UC San Diego Extension titled “Great Cities Are Made From Better Recipes…Not Just More Cooking.” The talk will focus on the latest advances in transportation and what these technologies bode for development in San Diego and elsewhere.
“We know we’re going to be changing,” Norby, who is also a San Diego County Planning Commissioner, said in a recent interview. “The question is what opportunities are going to be available to us.”
Norby notes that every generation had a favored mode of transportation that directly impacted development, “from horses to the steam engine to the train to the car to the interstate highway system.” These shifts also reshaped the economy and the workforce – ushering in the demand for new skills and expertise.
The latest advances, from Uber to bike-sharing programs to driverless cars, are helping make people more mobile and less dependent on their own cars. The result is what Norby calls “relocalization,” in which we have less suburban sprawl and more urban density. He cited a recent update to San Diego County’s General Plan as an example of this trend.
This trend is a fortunate one, given that all California cities are required by state law to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by various target dates. It’s not that Norby wants to force people out of their cars. As he puts it, he hopes these new transportation technologies will “give a person multiple travel options and let them choose the one that’s best for them.”
Laura Fandino, director of environmental sciences for UC San Diego Extension, said Norby’s lecture will offer insights into “how San Diego can participate as a leader in renewable energy and mobility. He has a lot of insight into what the future of sustainable mobility will look like.”
Norby, a Carlsbad resident, said his lecture is designed for an audience ranging from land-use planners to municipal engineers to community activists concerned about how the region might look in thirty years and what that means not just for the environment but also for the economy and the job market. To adapt to this new era of sustainable mobility, the region will have to address a wide variety of technology and infrastructure needs, which will require a workforce, such as planners, developers and engineers, skilled in both designing and developing the transit-oriented cities of the future.
“The goal of the talk really is to encourage more imaginative thinking on the part of everyone in terms of what’s possible,” he said.