New And Notable: Traffic & Gridlock, Becoming An Urban Planner, Sustainable Urban Design, Transportation In A Climate-Constrained World

Gridlock: Why We’re Stuck In Traffic And What To Do About It by Randal O’Toole (Washington, D.C. : Cato Institute, 2009)

“O’Toole’s Gridlock is a brilliant ode to mobility, which he argues is the foundation of our freedom and our prosperity. He blasts those groups in our society which have turned from promoting mobility to restricting it. He punctures the pretensions of congressmen, transport agency bureaucrats, urban planners, `smart growth’ advocates and their ilk who want to spend billions promoting trains and rail transit systems that few people want to ride. This book will infuriate some and inspire others by its pointed and data-driven conclusions. But its policy arguments are too urgent and too important to ignore. A must-read book for everyone interested in the future of transportation policy.” –James A. Dunn, Jr., Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University, and author of Driving Forces: The Automobile, Its Enemies, and the Politics of Mobility

Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt (New York: Knopf, 2008)

Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic — engagingly written, meticulously researched, endlessly interesting and informative — is one of those rare books that comes out of the depths of nowhere. Its subjects are the road and the people who drive it, which is to say Traffic gets about as close to the heart of modern existence as any book could get, yet what’s truly astonishing is that no one else has done it, at least not on the scale that Vanderbilt has achieved. We’ve had road novels (On the Road) and road movies (“Two for the Road”) and road songs (“On the Road Again”), but nonfiction studies of “why we drive the way we do and what it says about us” — to borrow Vanderbilt’s subtitle — have been almost entirely limited to dry, impenetrable engineering and psychological treatises. Yet think about it, which Vanderbilt obviously has done at great length and to immensely rewarding effect. “Many of us,” he writes at the outset, “myself included, seem to take driving a car fairly lightly, perhaps holding on to some simple myths of independence and power, but it is actually an incredibly complex and demanding task.” (Washington Post)

Becoming An Urban Planner by Michael Bayer, Nancy Frank and Jason Valerius (New York: Wiley, 2010)

Are you considering a career in urban planning? Through in-depth interviews with more than eighty urban planners across the United States and Canada, this book gives you a valuable insider’s look at your future profession as it is lived and practiced.

Becoming An Urban Planner introduces you to the urban planning profession—its history, what you must know to prepare for a career in planning, and the different types of planning jobs. Beyond the basics, though, it shows you the realities of what it’s really like to be a planner today. You’ll learn about:

  • The skills you’ll need and how to hone them in school and on the job
  • Potential career paths and what people in these positions do
  • Using internships, job shadowing, and other opportunities to break into the field
  • Deciding among planning specialties and moving between public and private sectors
  • How to search for and get your first position
  • Emerging areas in planning, including sustainability and climate change

Each topic is explored through in-depth interviews with both generalists and others who have devoted their careers to a particular aspect of planning. These professionals share their insights and describe how they have arrived at where they are and how beginners like you can learn from their experiences. (From the cover)

Sustainable Urban Design: An Environmental Approach (2nd ed.) edited by Adam Ritchie and Randall Thomas (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2009)

Towns and cities form the backdrop to the lives of a rapidly increasing number of people around the planet. At or around the time you read this, we will, for the first time in history, have reached a milestone when more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Sustainable Urban Design (2nd ed.) addresses the issues faced by planners and designers in making these areas environmentally sustainable. Design guidance is followed by a number of exemplary case studies which have been designed and developed by leading figures in the U.K. and further afield. Principal topics include: planning, transport, landscape and nature, energy (including renewable energy), water and waste, and materials. (From the cover)

Transportation In A Climate-Constrained World by Andreas Schafer, John B. Heywood, Henry D. Jacoby and Ian A. Waitz (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009)

“This book is full of fascinating insights. It is a brilliant dissection of our transportation energy problems and a careful and sophisticated examination of the solutions. As one would expect from such renowned experts, this book is a must read for anyone interested in transportation energy. I’ve been waiting for this book for years and will immediately adopt it as a text for my course.” — Daniel Sperling, Member, California Air Resources Board and Director, Institute of Transportation Studies, Acting Director, Energy Efficiency Center, and Professor of Transportation Engineering and Environmental Policy, University of California, Davis

“Andreas Schäfer and his colleagues provide a clear and concise overview of the role that transportation plays in creating some of the global environmental challenges confronting us and look at the sort of technology that can help us circumvent the dangers of global climatic change. In doing this it brings within a single set of covers a wealth of information, systematically presented, and, importantly, written in a way that can be followed by a non-specialist. It is a very welcome addition to the literature.” — Kenneth J. Button, Director, Aerospace Policy and Management Center, School of Public Policy, George Mason University

“The authors deliver a wealth of data, analysis, and insight on the key challenges to achieve sustainable transportation systems—oil dependency, global climate change, the growing global demand for mobility—and the technological and policy solutions that will be required to overcome these challenges. This book provides a unique reference for policymakers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders that will shape the coming transformation of our global transportation systems.” — John Moavenzadeh, Senior Director, Head of Sustainable Mobility and Strategy Officer, World Economic Forum

“This book—not surprisingly, given the authors—provides an excellent technical review of the costs and benefits of alternative efficiency technologies and alternative fuels for light vehicles and commercial aircraft. More surprisingly, it contains an unusually insightful discussion of the evolution of travel and a valuable and dispassionate review of the policy options open to government to pursue further technological advancement of the two fleets. I’ve been doing this work for twenty years and this book showed me that I still have a lot to learn.” — Stephen E. Plotkin, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory