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Reflections on the Field Trip - Essay Example

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In the essay “Reflections on the Field Trip” the author analyzes how towns develop and the variables involved in such developments, giving a lecture on Mass Transit Needs: Urban Density Threshold for Cost-effective Investments. Field trips benefit both the geography instructors and learners…
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Reflections on the Field Trip
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Reflections on the Field Trip
Geography as a subject is never complete without field trips. Field trips benefit both the geography instructors and learners. During this tour of the lace, Prof. Robert Cervero, of City & Regional Planning at the University of California, and also the Friesen Chair of Urban Studies gave a lecture on Mass Transit Needs: Urban Density Threshold for Cost-effective Fixed Guideway Investments. The lecture was an opportunity for geography students to learn so much about how towns develop and the variables involved in such developments.
Urban density plays a very important role in the development of towns. Urban density refers to the aggregated human population in a given urban locality. The success and extent of investment in an urban centre relies heavily on the number of people living in it. In setting up heavy investments such as fixed guideway, this very important factor must be duly considered. A high population in an urban area should always be high if any meaningful investments are to be realized. A high population translates in high demand for essential goods and services, and that would be an inducement to invest even more. It also ensures that all the available resources are utilized maximally and to optimal levels so as to fully exploit the full potential of the place. Low population would translate to underutilization of resources and low returns on investment.
Mass investments in an urban centre must be properly planned. In this respect, urban or town authorities must have a professional responsible for planning mass investments. One should never rely on a supposed role of market forces; neither should they expect any magic. The planning must be carried out in a proactive manner, and in consideration of all the prevailing factors. This ensures that these investments have proper locations within the town, and prevents tendency of investors to congest one part of an urban locality while ignoring others. Some of the common mass investments include bus rapid transit, light rail and fixed guideway. Prior to launching these investments, sufficient time should be allocated for carrying out prefeasibility studies and ascertain if such investments are really necessary and would be profitable. The cost-effective aspects of these investments must also be considered during such studies.
Other crucial factors include land use and availability of space, employment densities, and walkable neighborhood designs. Land use and availability of space are of immense importance. For instance, space would be required for bus stop and car-parking services. All these factors constanly interact with density and, as such, would help in making important decisions regarding the effectiveness of any projects in an upcoming town.
Apart from urban densities, transit-oriented corridors can be extremely important if the correct design is achieved. Accessible and highly connected designs of transit-oriented corridors can be of more importance that the density. Density may be considered a necessity, but would have certain negative impacts, such as hampering transit investments. Below are the statements Professor Robert made about density and transit-oriented corridors:
On densities:
“Densities are necessary but clearly not sufficient for cost-effective transit investments; evidence biggest pay-off from clustering jobs within several blocks of stations; refine threshold targets”
On transit-oriented corridors
“Research shows accessible (i.e. mixed land use) and fine-grained highly connected designs (i.e. walkable) in natural travel shreds can be more important than density (in addition to high-quality, time-competitive transit)
The trip was also a chance to gain practical experiences. It was an opportunity to put class work into practice and break monotony of always having to be in a classroom situation. It was a break from the monotonous class work which we have been engaging in since the beginning of the year. At least, on this day, we did not have to sit before our teacher, listen to him, take notes and respond to impromptu and written assignments as we always do. We were so contented and happy since we had to learn in a totally new environment which of course gave us the necessary exposure and time to engage in formal and informal interactions with our colleagues, teacher and the speaker. Everyone was relaxed, jovial and remained attentive all through Professor Robert’s lecture. All these could be attributed to a change of setting. Read More
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